This is a sad Storyworth prompt, but such an important part of my guy’s story.
I can still remember meeting with Aidan’s advisor at the end of his freshman year. He had a rocky start to high school, and we were brainstorming ways to keep him motivated in those non-preferred courses. She suggested we find a way to harness his interest in locomotives as a way to work on leadership skills. I was on it and emailed the New Hope Valley Railway to see if he could volunteer that summer. A man named Jay responded and said Aidan could come out and do a trial day with him. I remember that first visit so vividly. Aidan was beyond impressed with the trains, but Jay was a bit off-putting at that first visit. He wanted to make sure that Aidan was serious about this volunteer gig. And Aidan WAS serious. He went every single Saturday and Sunday until the pandemic shut everything down.
One of my favorite Aidan memories is him calling me after his last Christmas train shift his sophomore year. Jay gave him a handmade holiday card his wife made along with the sponsorship from the railway to attend the National Railway Historic Camp for Teens. That camp did not happen because of COVID, but the honor of being sponsored was so special to Aidan.
Aidan learned this week that Jay passed away at the end of May. His wife died from COVID complications in 2020, and Aidan never got back into volunteering because of COVID, and I regret that for both Jay and Aidan. They both love the railway and all things locomotives.
I know that Aidan’s advisor Amelia and Jay were meant to be a part of his life, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Life lessons on so many levels. Life sends you the people you need to teach you what you need to learn.