TONIGHT'S RAILROAD READING. Econobrowser's James Hamilton honors his late father-in-law, John E. Flavin, jr.

If this were a proper eulogy, I'd write about all of Jack's life-- his service as a captain in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, his very successful career as a chemical engineer for Eastman Kodak, his four children (one of whom I married). But this is something more personal, based on my own interaction with Jack during his last year, after he and my mother-in-law moved out to San Diego so that my wife Marjorie and I could help out a little better.

Jack's last year was not an easy one. Everything was becoming increasingly difficult, and he came to spend most of his time in front of the TV watching nothing in particular. Margie and I were trying to figure out what we could do to bring some richness and meaning back to his life.

Our last inspiration was based on Jack's childhood hobby-- model trains. They still had a big collection of these packed up in boxes in the garage. Margie and I spent several weekends moving furniture around and constructing a big table that might serve as a train room.

We thought of it as a long shot-- Jack was losing interest in so much-- but it seemed worth giving it a try.

The project turned out far more successfully than we had dreamed. Jack returned to the hobby with his boyhood passion, and spent almost all of his time in the room that was now all his. He threw his energy into painting the table and organizing the layout. He was quite enthusiastic about attending the model train exhibition that was coming to the Del Mar Fairgrounds in January. But congestive heart failure left him too weak for that last planned trip.

I had an odd thought as I reflected in late December on the past year. In thinking about the various things I'd attempted and accomplished during the year, personally and professionally, the one of which I was most proud was that train room.

With pictures. (Via Econ Log).

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