The days between July 14 and 21 are always a strange period for me and for my family. Seven years ago this week, both my grandmother and father died (July 14 and 21, respectively). There’s really no way to explain the feelings; it’s just a very sad time. What can explain it, perhaps, is a song my grandfather used to sing me when I was a child, “The Wreck of Number Nine.” It’s poignant and so sad and goes like this:

On a cold winter night, not a star was in sight,
And the north wind came howling down the line;
There stood a brave engineer with his sweetheart so dear,
And the orders to pull old Number Nine.
He kissed her goodbye with a tear in his eye,
For the joy in his heart he could not hide;
And the whole world seemed bright when she told him that night
That tomorrow she’d be his blushing bride.

The wheels hummed a song as the train rolled along,
And the black smoke was pouring from the stack;
And the headlights agleam seemed to brighten his dream
Of tomorrow, when he’d be coming back.
He sped ’round the hill, and his brave heart stood still,
For a headlight was shining in his face;
And he whispered a prayer as he threw on the air,
For he knew this would be his final race.

In the wreck he was found, lying there on the ground,
And he asked them to raise his weary head;
As his breath slowly went, this message he sent
To the maiden who thought she would be wed.
“There’s a little white home that I bought for our own,
For I thought we’d be happy bye and bye.
Now I’ll leave it to you, for I know you ‘II be true,
Till we meet at that golden gate, goodbye.”