Today is Rickie's birthday; he would have been 62. Once again I'm letting him write the post for me. Here's what he had to say about hunting the family home place in Mississippi:
"When I hunted behind our home I would usually sit at the base of the same tree every time in different areas. Over the years I became attached to these trees and areas. I knew them so well; I could walk in and out in the dark with very little help from a flash light. After I left home and was living in Lafayette Louisiana I returned to hunt one season. It had been last year since I had been in the woods. I got in on a Friday night and got up the next morning to walk into the woods before sunrise. I walked through the fields of dew laden ragweed and through the grown up forest and fields. The whole time I was walking, smelling the familiar smells, I couldn't help but think how I should have come a few weekends earlier to scout the property. I finally reached the first rise in the land indicating the beginning of a hill. Then I located the old run down fence; turning left I followed it up the hill looking for one of my favorite trees to sit under. This was a White Oak tree in one of my favorite hunting spots. These old trees over many hunts become your friends. You get attached to them over time. They keep the demands in your mind from approaching you from your back. They shelter you from a soft rain and give your back much needed support. And sometimes you can get a feeling of being attached to the earth through these trees.This is a feeling I can't explain but it exists. When you find these trees walking through the woods at night they are like a lighthouse in the middle of a dark ocean. As I followed the fence line up the hill my heart seemed to stop. The old tree had blown over and was dead. It was if I had lost a friend. The spot was not the same; the feeling of despair was almost indescribable. I never hunted that spot again, sadly the days of hunting the home place were coming to an end.
Before I left home for good, I became quite accomplished at still hunting. I always felt I could take a gun and walk on to a piece of property and find a deer to kill. I felt I was a hunter and not shooters like so many people are today."
Rickie still liked to go to the woods and sit with his back to a tree. There is a big cedar back on Shotgun Ridge behind the cabin. Under it are some gray boulders just made for sitting and he would often go back there and sit a while. That's were we spread his ashes last Saturday, as family and friends gathered around to honor him and toast him with his beverage of choice, Crown Royal. My brother Andy sang Blue Shadows on the Trail, a song Rickie turned on every time we got on our road, back when we used to drive out together with Sarah on Friday evenings. The big draw is below and when we get a heavy rain water rushes down it past the ridge. There are walnuts, elms, oaks, and cedars there. The wind blows softly and in the Spring birds shelter in the cool branches and sing their love songs and in the Fall the leaves turn red and yellow.
I can't think of a better place or one that would have suited him better.
Rest in peace, Rickie, and wait for me down the trail.
Monday, January 19, 2015
If you piled up all the hardship this group of women has faced, it would make a mountain. We've lost husbands, moms, dads, babies, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, and friends. We've dealt with Alzheimer's, physical and mental abuse, war, lost jobs, lost homes, bad marriages, divorce, broken hearts, and broken bodies. We've started over more times than we care to admit.
If Bixby could see down the road for us all with those binoculars he's looking through, I shudder to think what he might see ahead for us.
We've survived it all by standing side by side, just as we are in the photo. One leaning on the other. When we need help, all we have to do is place a call to one and all coming running. As they did this weekend, and the past weeks, for me and my kids. Along with a whole group of others that didn't make the photo and a group of men that love strong women.
This group is strong. Rickie knew he could count on them to get us down the road. He was right. He knew a bunch of badasses when he saw them.