Down through the years I have delighted in sharing stories that come from my friend Sandy Pohfal in Texas. Seeing how Thanksgiving is almost here – day after tomorrow – I figure it’s about time to slow down and let warmth of this week prepare us to give thanks for both the good and bad – without the bad things we wouldn’t recognize the real blessings.
The first story I am going to share was written by a daughter who read it at her daddy’s funeral and since then “I’m Ready” has touched thousands. Nobody knows who wrote the second story in today’s “double header” but the people in “Keep Them Close” will be easy for you to recognize. As a matter of fact, a lot of us will see them through the eyes of those sitting with us at Thursday’s table.
Both stories seem like a good fit as the turkeys begin to thaw:
* * *
DADDY TOLD THE BUCK, “I’M READY”
My Daddy was a hunter. Every year, on opening weekend of bow season, you could find him in a tree, in his camo at sunrise.
As the years went by, he traded his gun for a camera and instead taught his kids and grandkids how to enjoy the hobby he loved.
Last week, two days before he died, Daddy met his buck. It was gorgeous, a 10 point with six spikes on one side and four on the other. He came to the window where daddy was sitting in his favorite chair and looked in, right at him. A few minutes later he was on the porch, literally nudging the handle to try and get in.
Daddy stood up, in a rare surge of energy for those final days, opened the door and held his hand out. And that deer, which he’d never seen before… relaxed under his hand and let my Daddy pet him. A wild animal who, for just a few minutes, was as tame as a dog raised from a puppy.
My daddy looked at him, and he looked at Daddy and Daddy simply said, “I’m ready.” After eight years of fighting a disease that wouldn’t leave him alone, he was ready. After watching three kids and nine grandkids come into this world, he was ready. After coming face to face with an animal he had waited on, for years, he was ready.
Daddy sat back down in his chair as me and my brother and sister went outside to see the buck. He nuzzled each one of us, putting his head on our shoulder and licking our faces. The whole time, he never startled or jerked. When we came inside Daddy said, “You don’t understand. That was my Daddy, come to take me home. He just wanted some time to see his grandkids after 30 years.”
My daddy was more peaceful in those next few hours than I’d seem him in weeks, maybe months. And before the deer ran away across the field that my daddy brought back to life, he said, “He’ll be back, one more time.”
Daddy died two days later holding the hands of his children and loving companion Nancy. When the hospice nurse came, he mentioned how many deer we had in the area. I got out the pictures of “Daddy’s buck” to show him our incredible encounter. And he looked at the first picture and said “I just saw that same Buck walking a circle around this house.”
He had come, one more time, to take Daddy home. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to witness a miracle. But seeing my Daddy, free from fear, in the days where we said goodbye is something I’ll always be grateful for.
Here’s to those sweet dreams of long-awaited reunions, peaceful road trips, endless energy and that smile that none of us will ever forget. I love you Daddy
~ The author is Latricia Thomas. She commented: “Thank you so much for all of the kind words and support after we lost my Daddy. I wanted to share with you the story that I wrote about his final days which was read at his funeral.” ~
* * *
“KEEP THEM CLOSE”
I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen before they had a name for it. A father who was happier trying to fix or repair broken cars and things around the house or getting old shoes fixed rather than buying new ones.
I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat, a wrench in one hand and a paint brush in the other. Mom in a house dress, washing clothes, packing school lunches, cleaning house and cooking supper every day. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.
It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating leftovers, second hand clothes, used books, etc., I just wanted to have something new and just throw away all that old stuff. Throwing things away didn’t always mean that you could go out and simply get “new” stuff, but it gave a sense of knowing that there’d always be more.
But then my dad died suddenly and fixing things became a lot harder. Some years later, my mother died, and on that clear summer’s night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain in learning that sometimes there isn’t any more.
Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away … never to return ... so… while we have it….. it’s best we love it…. And care for it… And fix it when it’s broken…….. And heal it when it’s sick.
This is true. For marriage……. And old cars….. And children with bad report cards….. And dogs with bad hips… And aging parents…… And grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.
There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special. Keep them close!
~ Author Unknown ~
* * *
“Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.” -- Robert Caspar Lintner