(based on a letter by Marge Murray)
|Lying in a hospital bed, comfort he was desperate to find,
Willie drifted off to sleep, while long ago memories came to mind.
With breathing labored and hard, as his body fought to make gain,
He thought he heard the whistle of a distant, lonesome freight train.
As he listened, events of his younger days began to rush in,
And he was back there riding the rails as a hobo, again.
Willie traveled the railroad lines with his friend R.T. Blount;
Often singing for his supper until folks ran them out.
Just now he could hear Jimmie Rodgers singing a hobo song,
About a lonesome old bum who had ridden the rails too long.
The song came clear to him now; then with a whisper of a smile,
Willie could hear the tune about the hobo who'd gone his final mile.
"Riding on an east bound freight train speeding thru the night
Hobo Bill a railroad bum was fighting for his life
The sadness of his eyes revealed the torture of his soul
He raised a weak and weary hand to brush away the cold
No warn lights flicker 'round him no blankets there to fold
Nothing but the howling wind and the driving rain so cold
When he heard a whistle blowing in a dreary kind of way
The hobo seemed contented for he smiled there where he lay
Outside the rain was falling on that lonely boxcar door
But the little form of Hobo Bill lay still on the floor
While the train sped thru the darkness and the raging storm outside
No-one knew that Hobo Bill was taking his last ride
It was early in the morning when they raised the Hobo's head
The smile still lingered on his face but Hobo Bill was dead
There was no mother's longing to soothe his weary soul
For he was just a railroad bum who died out in the cold." **
As Willie awoke, upon a pair of soft, brown eyes his gaze fell,
He smiled at his eldest daughter, though he was seeing his loving wife, Thel.
In an attempt to quench his thirst, a sponge of water to his mouth was passed.
Then Willie bit down, his tongue between his lips, breathing hard and fast.
As a lonesome freight train whistle blew somewhere in the dark night,
Willie's breathe blew out as a signal that he was nearing the end of his fight.
His breathes came out like the signal of a freight train whistle singing.
Then the final breathe left his body, as those Golden Bells began ringing.
After ninety-four years, Willie crossed over to ride the rails in glory,
To sing with Jimmie, R.T. and others, who shared his hobo story
Unlike Hobo Bill, Willie was never lonesome - for a stranger he never met,
Now he rests in Heaven and is wondering why we aren't there, yet!