All too often we don’t take the time to stop and enjoy the things around us, or more importantly, let the people who are important to us know just how much they mean.
I had driven down the little dirt road that cuts back into the woods behind Lickingville hundreds of times, usually with my dad as we went back in to our usual hunting spot.
Oh, there were plenty of other hunting spots to which we could have gone. Dad took me to a number of different places. But this one was special. It was where his father had taken him hunting as well.
I had spent many an hour back this road, sitting on the edge of a field or down by the stream.
In fact, one of my favorite hunting memories was walking back into the woods with my dad after lunch and coming across a haggard hunter who was dragging a deer that had no hair remaining on either side.
“Can you tell me where Leeper is?” the hunter asked.
My dad explained to him that it was about five miles the other way.
The man sighed and explained that he had shot what was left of the deer he was dragging at 7 a.m., but that it had run into the creek and he followed it downstream until it got hung up on a tree. Trouble was, he had gotten confused while following the deer and went the wrong way, dragging the deer several miles – without the aid of snow – until he came across us.
My dad told him that if he dragged the deer up the lane, he would come across a store where he could call his hunting party to come and pick him up.
As we walked away, dad said, “That guy won’t have to worry about grinding that deer up for burger.”
On this night, however, I had my three nephews and my two sons with me.
We drove back the now seldom-used lane, parked and got out of the car. I knew the boys were wondering what we were doing in this place at 10 p.m.
As we stood there under the stars, I talked to them about this particular spot and how my grandfather had taken my dad hunting in this spot and that my dad, in turn, had brought me here.
We talked about memories of my father and how proud he was of each of them. We talked about family and responsibility and always trying to do the right thing.
It was a time that I will remember the rest of my life, and I hope that they will as well.
Dad died Wednesday, June 5 at the all-too-young age of 63.
But I’m sure if he knew that I had taken his grandsons to one of his special spots, he would have been happy.
Growing up in a rural area, hunting and fishing were very important to him. And he instilled that love in me as well. He loved to hunt and fish with his grandsons.
Dad taught me a lot of things: How to play different sports – he was a natural at everything he did – how to change a tire, oil and other various day-to-day things. But more than anything else, he taught me how to hunt and fish.
And every year – despite how busy our schedules would get – we would get together at some point during the week after Thanksgiving to celebrate our yearly ritual. In recent years, because of my busy schedule during football season, that meant he had become a Washington County hunter.
Even though we would be in different spots in the woods and possibly wouldn’t talk for most of the day, just the thought that he was there with me was comforting.
I’ll miss that perhaps more than I’ve ever missed anything in my life.
So on this Father’s Day, I just want to thank my dad for everything he taught me. I never did that enough when he was still here. But I can hope that he knew.
Outdoors Editor F. Dale Lolley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.