The thing about deer hunting is it sure gives you an awful lot of time to think. Sometimes too much.
A little over a week ago, I was spending hours and hours perched in a Kansas tree as I awaited an opportunity to sling an arrow at one of the giant bucks for which that state is known. It was then that I began to think ahead to what I’d write for my Thanksgiving column this year.
After what has been, by far, the most eventful and worst year of my life which began on a sour note with the loss of my Aunt Sis on New Year’s Day, continued with the deaths of a lifelong friend and his father before we were through the month of February, followed by my Uncle Jim in early May and my father a week after Independence Day, I was seriously giving thought to sending my editor a piece to be titled “What I’m thankful for this year.”
The body of that theoretical column was to consist of a single word: “Nothing.”
With more time to sit there and ponder, I began to realize that, for as much as I knew that I’d find no enjoyment in sitting down to write it, there are actually things that need to be said and even some things that I’m truly grateful for.
So here I sit. I’ll give it a shot but bear in mind that these are just a bunch of random thoughts and notes that come in no particular order.
I’ll begin with the obvious. I’m still here.
Although we all tend to get too wrapped up in our daily lives and take that for granted, I learned seven years ago that there are no guarantees and any morning that we wake up is a blessing. Having turned 46 this past Saturday, that one has been on my mind a lot lately.
I’m thankful to be from right here. More importantly, I’m thankful that we were given the opportunity to return to this neck of the woods back in ’06.
I’ll never forget the phone conversation I had that fateful day with Clover’s former mayor, Donnie Burris, when he asked, “Any chance y’all would want to move back home?”
The Town administrator’s position had opened up and he had no idea that we had already been talking about wanting to vacate the Lowcountry to get closer to home in hopes that Maggie could grow up around all of her family the way that we did.
When we moved back in the middle of April that year, we couldn’t imagine that within six weeks of doing so I’d be diagnosed with cancer, or that these short years since our return would hold so many memories that are now more valuable than I could have ever dreamed.
Looking back on it now, that old saying of “everything happens for a reason” has never rung more true to me. There truly is no place like home.
I’m thankful for all of those memories I have from growing up with my buddy Bill, too. There are tons of them that float around in my head since we were always into something. Sometimes what we were in was the woods, and other times it was trouble. I still can’t believe that that book has been closed and there will be no more chapters written.
For as much as I have lost in 2013, I’m incredibly fortunate to be sitting here at my age with my grandparents still here. They’re both pretty remarkable folks and celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary just a few weeks back.
Yep. You read that right. Just how many people ya reckon can say that?
When you think about it, were it not for them getting together way back then, my mom would have never been born, never met my dad, and I, in turn, wouldn’t have been blessed with the best set of parents any kid could ever hope for.
Even though I only have one child, I’ll have to say that there is nothing in the world like being a parent and it’s impossible for me to put into words how grateful I am for the opportunity. Since Mags is right on the cusp of her teens, I thought maybe I ought to throw that out there while I still can.
I pray every day that she never tires of running off to hunt or fish with her old man, and that years from now she’ll be able to look back through her mind’s eye and revisit those times together in the way that I do now with recollections of times with my Dad.
My Dad. What can I say? I’m more than just thankful for having had him. I’m thankful for all that came along with it.
My father was everything that I could ever want to be and, for as long as I walk the Earth, I’ll be proud to say that I’m his son.
Full of love and compassion for anyone that crossed his path, he simply treasured the act of living and I believe wholeheartedly that his key to a good life had as much to do with how many people he could come in contact with as anything else.
He’s the only person that I’ve ever known that could walk into a store for a pack of gum and leave there knowing the complete life story of anyone inside.
His interest in people never waned, nor did he want to ever disappoint someone or cause them any trouble. Even in his last days, as he lay in the hospital in pain, you could see this whenever a doctor or nurse asked him how he was doing.
“Fine,” he’d say with a smile. “How about you?”
So, lastly, I’m thankful for that lesson, Pop. I have no doubt that if we all showed as much consideration for each other in our daily lives as I watched you always do, this world’s problems would disappear.
Hope y’all have a great Thanksgiving.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his web site at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors