November 21, 2006


Got a call from my best friend growing up the other night, and it's been weighing on my mind.

As many who read me know, I lost my dad in a farm accident when I was nine. This is right about the age that you start to realize that there is a lot to your father, and you just start to get to know him. I never did drive a tractor, other than the old lawn mower (though I ran one into the rabbit hutch), and, though he talked of hunting occasionally, I never did learn about shooting or hunting from him.

I met my best friend just before our church started its school, and when the school year began, we were both enrolled. We became close friends very quickly, and we spent much time at each other's houses, our parents getting new kids in the deal. His father soon became a father figure to all of the kids in my family.

Al took us up North to camp, and in the fall, he took us hunting, telling us what to look for, and where most deer would be seen... and why. When he built a small bunkhouse to go along with the trailer that he had up there, we boys were right there. Heheheh... the Perfect One, in trimming the posts that we used to mount the floor joists, left one a little tall. After the cabin was finished, we noticed it. It's been called "the pivot point" ever since, as it's right where you need to turn to go out the door. (Imagine the Minister of Silly Walks pivoting and kicking, and you've got a picture of what we do when we hit that spot.)

For years, we boys went hunting with them, hunting their land and the surrounding acreage. The owners encouraged us to hunt it, as we were responsible, and it helped to push the deer to other areas, keeping them moving. One land owner died, and soon his land was forbidden to us. We stopped going up there, as there was only so much room for 8-10 people to hunt, and 40 acres didn't cut it. Besides... that's right around the time I moved to Illinois, and I could not afford to pay for the non-resident license. I've really missed it, and John called to let me know that they all missed us coming up with them. Then, just before he hung up, he told me the news that's been bugging me since...

Al needs a cane to walk.

Al is a big man, powerfully built, and almost my height. He's always seemed indestructable, even the few times that he'd been hurt. It just doesn't seem like it can be... he's in his late fifties.

Many years ago, all of the kids from our family got together and bought him a beautiful Browning A-bolt .300 magnum rifle. A powerful gun, it left its mark on three of our eyebrows. Heh... not mine. Anyway, at the time we presented it to him, we made it clear that we were all going to go out west elk hunting. Unfortunately, schedules did not cooperate, and over the years, it was dropped to a low priority.

Now... I don't know if it will ever come about. But believe me, I'm going to try to work something out, if it's only Al and myself. He deserves it...

Growing up on and around farms, I know about death... I know things age. This doesn't bother me. It's life. What bothers me is the speed with which it pounces upon you... something you'd have thought I'd learned long ago. Lord knows I've gotten bitchslapped by life more than once...

The night I got that call, I had so many thoughts running through my empty head and nothing seemed to come out right as I was writing about it. It seemed like I was feeling sorry for myself, or for Al, or thinking that life just isn't fair. Hell... that ain't the case at all. Life just is... deal with it. Then I ran across a post from Mushy, which kinda sums it up in a different way. It may seem fatalistic, but it's the damn truth.

Folks rust...

Posted by That 1 Guy at November 21, 2006 07:51 AM | TrackBack

I say take that trip. Even if he needs a cane to walk - he can get into the woods, find a good perch and set.

Posted by: oddybobo at November 21, 2006 08:16 AM

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of friends and fine beer - I know I will!

Even if we are rusting, we can only hope that alcohol uses its preservative properties to slow the process just a little bit!

Posted by: Mushy at November 21, 2006 08:59 AM

Yeah, folks rust. But - rust adds a beauty, a history. It's the character. Maybe it's the fact that I'm getting old, and finding my own rust, but I'm also trying to find the "silver lining" of it all.

I say that now, but know it doesn't lessen the hurt when I see it in those I love.

Posted by: Tammi at November 21, 2006 09:00 AM

T1G - I know how you're feeling. I remember noticing one day that my dad wasn't the strong giant I remembered from my childhood - someone had replaced him with a frail old man.

That's a hard hit when it comes.

Posted by: Harvey at November 21, 2006 09:55 AM

... excellent post, T1G... and well written...

... and as Neil Young so aptly said.. "Rust Never Sleeps".....

Posted by: Eric at November 21, 2006 10:39 AM

Life cycles are tough and folks do rust.
I am going hrough that right now with my old man.

If you want to come out west to Colorado for Elk I have a place for you to stay. Email me and I will give you some details. Heck, there is some spots that you can 4 wheel to and not have to walk a lot.

Posted by: Michael at November 21, 2006 10:41 AM

Lovely post, T1G. And you can tap me for Elk hunting areas in Northern Wyo that could be easily accessible. Just let me know.

Elk hunting with Al sounds like a fine idea.

Posted by: Richmond at November 21, 2006 11:12 AM


To aging

Posted by: armywifetoddlermom at November 21, 2006 01:49 PM

We got Elk in the Buffalo River Valley in Arkansas as well. (Not far from AWTM in fact!) I know they allow hunters, I'm not sure how many they allow however.

My Grandpa summed it up for me one time when I asked him if he was going to die.

"Son, I'm too ornery to never be near you."

Just because you can't see'em don't mean they're gone

Posted by: BloodSpite at November 22, 2006 10:04 AM