Spending time hunting with the boys and my father in law has led to some amazing memories, creating some new while remembering some old. They’ve both been deer hunting for a couple of years now, but participating firsthand with them for the first time has been nothing short of mind-blowing.
For the much of the day my brain has been focused on writing my blog on how grateful I am for all that Ken does to create a memorable hunting experience for the boys. From prepping multiple hunting stands to helping sight in rifles to sitting in the stands with them to cleaning and prepping the venison he’s there every single step of the way, sacrificing so much of his time and energy to help the boys have a great hunting experience. Seeing just how much he pours into hunting for my boys and all of his grandkids is inspiring and reminds me of what it means to leave a legacy.
What’s interesting is also seeing that the advice they receive from him is priceless and transcends hunting. The boys see how to prepare, how to anticipate, how to handle success, and how to stay calm and learn from mistakes. They’ve seen how to keep their patience, how to work hard, how to be grateful for and respect the animal, how to treat the land, how to treat others, and how to make a gift of themselves – all from Ken. Some of these things they may not have realized yet, but I’m certain that they will someday look back to some of these experiences and realize that they’ve helped to build their character and values.
Like I said, that was almost the topic of the blog, but not quite. When I think about the big picture I am even more grateful for is the boys continuing to create hunting memories with Grandpa. They’re creating more memories that will come back to them often and will bring joy to their hearts and smiles to their faces. Each experience is one they may end up sharing with their kids or their grandkids one day. No mater what happens in life they will always have those memories to warm them when they need them.
Over the past 72 hours or so my mind has been continuing to think of Dad. From putting on his camouflage GP ball cap to carrying his old hunting whistle to carrying his hunting knife there have been specific items that have brought back so many memories. The entire routine of packing up the night before, waking up early to head out, sitting in a stand, walking back in and sharing stories, and so many other moments have reminded me of those times with Dad. I feel silly to admit it, but I almost teared up when Dominic and I started gutting his deer. We both just kind of froze as we realized I’d only seen it once and he’d never done it on his own. In that moment I chuckled and remembered how Dad walked me through the process the first (and only) time I got a deer. I knew he was smiling from above when I made a couple of the same jokes he did 30-ish years ago.
This whole weekend has been like a giant hug from Dad wrapped in the arms of memories we created together. Even decades later they still bring back so much joy and love. I miss him tremendously but am so grateful for all of the amazing experiences he created for me. I am so fortunate to have had as much time with him as I did – and times like this weekend remind me of that.
And that’s what wraps me back up to what I am the most thankful for today – the boys are continuing to create hunting memories like that with their grandpa. Even some of the more mundane moments of the weekend may materialize out of the blue in their memories one day and bring about the smile they needed. Maybe they’ll be reminded of a memory they learned from hunting with their grandpa and smile when they see how he taught them through example. Some day far in the future they may be sitting in a tree stand one day and and be moved by the memories of their time with him and then love he shared with them the same way I was this weekend. What an incredible gift for my boys, I am so grateful for their experiences with Grandpa.
PS: My apologies in advance Ken, but I’m going to be sure to get a picture of you and the boys together during hunting season! 😉