As the trains chugged by her house, a small girl named Rio would wave her hand every day, greeting the railway drivers as they passed by. But, as time went on, the railway drivers began to notice something different. Three years after responding to Rio’s greeting, they observed a sign at the small girl’s window, and knew they had to act quickly.
The phrase “you never know how deeply you care about someone until you lose them” is an often-used statement, but in the case of Rio and the railway drivers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it held true. The railway drivers had grown to care for the small girl who always greeted them, and her absence from the window was devastating to them.
For some locomotive mechanics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the loss of Rio was a painful reminder of the emotional impact that even the smallest of connections can have. They had grown to care for the small girl who had become a part of their daily routine, and her absence was felt deeply by them. The railway drivers were reminded that sometimes, it’s the small things in life that can have the greatest impact on our hearts.
Briana Hefley Shepard shared a heartwarming story on the Love What Matters Facebook page that tells of a special connection between her family and the railway drivers in their town. “About three years ago, our family business relocated to a new location. Because the building is right along the railway lines, we have a great view of all the engines passing by. Rio, my daughter is obsessed with it,” she wrote.
Rio’s fascination with the trains led to a daily practice of waving to the locomotive drivers as they passed by. “It didn’t take long for the locomotive drivers to notice Rio was waving her hand, and they responded to her greeting. This became their daily practice over time,” Shepard wrote.
As the trains passed by, Rio would dash to the window, the locomotive window would be opened, and everyone would wave and smile. “They almost always brought tears to my eyes,” Shepard wrote. This daily interaction became a special connection between Rio and the railway drivers and was a reminder of the power of small gestures in building connections with others.
“Then Rio started school a few weeks ago,” wrote Briana Hefley Shepard, “The shift to a daily school routine upset me more than I had anticipated.”
The worst was on the first day of school when the train passed by, and Rio was not there to wave at the drivers. “The mechanics rang the horn, opened the windows, but I was the sole one sitting there crying and waving my hand,” Shepard wrote. The absence of Rio’s daily greeting was a painful reminder of her absence.
In response, Shepard made a sign to hold up when the train passed by. “I just typed, ‘School has begun.’ When I heard the locomotive whistle, I dashed to the window and grabbed the cardboard. That happened three weeks ago,” she wrote. The sign was a small gesture to keep the connection between Rio, the railway drivers and herself, alive.
As Briana Hefley Shepard was walking into her store one morning, she was surprised by a knock on the door. Expecting it to be a construction worker, she was taken aback when she saw a man in a light-yellow shirt with earbuds hanging from his ears.
The man had come to inquire about the blond-haired girl who waved at trains. “He informed me that she was one of them, and everyone was wondering what had happened to her. They had an incomplete set today, so they came to our building and knocked on the door. They saw my message but couldn’t make out what it said,” Shepard wrote.
The railway drivers had assumed that school had begun, but they needed to double-check. The man went on to say that Rio’s greeting brightened their days, and they shared these experiences for three years. It was a reminder of the impact that a small gesture can have on people’s lives.
For the last five years, Briana Hefley Shepard has witnessed a magical friendship between her daughter Rio and the railway workers. “Knowing that these people are suffering in the same way that we are fills my heart with love and hope,” she wrote.
Today’s visit from the railway workers, and their connection with Rio, restored her faith in goodness and humanity. “These are the moments we shall never forget,” she wrote.
Rio will forever remember looking out the window at the trains, waving to the mechanics, and hearing them blow the locomotive’s whistle just for her. Little acts of kindness mean a lot, as the train workers demonstrated to this little girl, forever changing her life. This story is a powerful reminder of the impact that small gestures can have on others and how we should never be afraid to do something good for a stranger.
Rio’s daily interaction with the railway drivers in Tulsa, Oklahoma was a reminder of the power of small gestures in building connections with others. The railway drivers had grown to care for the small girl who had become a part of their daily routine, and her absence was felt deeply by them. The story of their friendship is a powerful reminder of the impact that small gestures can have on others.
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