Monday, December 10, 2012

All Dads Go to Heaven


When my Deerhunter came home for hunting season, the normal Friday before banter commenced as soon as his brother walked through the door. They’re brothers in the truest sense of the word: Deerhunter likes to express how much more awesome he is at hunting, and his brother just quietly lets him think that while getting prize deer with his bow. They’re both great hunters; they should be—they were taught by a great hunter, their father.

Deerhunter’s father is a colorful soul with colorful stories that you can’t generally share with PG-13 audiences; however, this time, he had Deerhunter silenced when he gave him a knife that he and Deerhunter had made together when Deerhunter was little. The knife had been sold and given away, but a while back, Deerhunter’s father was given a box of stuff from a neighbor and in the box was the knife. And in the knife was Deerhunter’s best memory of home, father-son bonding, and childhood. There was a touching conversation where they spoke about hunting and all those things dads teach their sons, and the father’s concerns that had he taught them how to survive, how to live? The boys reassured their father he had; he had given them the best education.

Then Deerhunter’s father expressed how he wished he could have gone to the Rendezvous and how he was born 200 years too late—and then when I admitted I had no idea what they were talking about and that I had never seen The Mountain Men, they all began educating me. Immediately. I watched the movie, and I could see the appeal for them. And I could see his father in Brian Keith, the good-natured, loyal friend who seems to have nine lives and never turns down a good drink.

I looked forward to talking to Deerhunter’s father about the movie and the Rendezvous and all those bits of information he seemed to know and I was glad to learn about. History buffs are nerdy that way. But I never got the chance. Deerhunter’s father passed away on November 30 suddenly and to the devastation of us all.

I wrote a poem for Deerhunter (I tend to express big feelings with poetry) and he wanted me to share it on the blog. He said it expressed his dad perfectly. I’m not sure Deerhunter’s father would approve; the man never liked a fuss being made about him. But for Deerhunter I will—because daddies are the best and should be honored. And all dads go to heaven, I know.

Crusty old mountain men
Don’t linger or say goodbye.
They cannot stand a fuss or scene.
It is up to us to remember them when they slip away
Until we are able to meet up with them again
At the Rendezvous.
When we do, and we will,
It will be as if no time has passed
Or that there ever was a hole in our hearts,
Only old stories and new to share and rejoice.

I’m not sure how to segue this to writerly discussion, but here’s my try. Do any of you do other sorts of writing to express yourself: essays, poetry, journaling? Do you have any favorite childhood memories of your dad? What relationship does your character usually have with their dad—and what things did they learn from him? 

P.S. If you want to toast Deerhunter's daddy, I think he'd actually like that. Even if he hated having a fuss made about him. 

20 comments:

Maureen said...

Well, I wrote a lot of poetry while watching my beloved beagle age...and it helped. When my Dad passed, I spoke at his funeral about a perfect day at Mt. Lassen...and the field of lupin we both posed in front of for a picture. An entire slope, rising at least a few hundred feet, of purple blooming flowers. We both paused and just stared, not really saying anything...

Sounds like Dad was a mountain man and I love the idea of meeting again at the Rendezvous... Let's a glass to Senior Deerhunter, may the deer be wiley and provide a perfect challenge on a perfect day. And may there by wildflowers.

quantum said...

Lovely poem Hellie.

I'll bet the old boy is shedding a quiet tear ..... now that you can't see him!
He might tell you about it at the Rendezvous.

If Dearhunter's dad can spare the time ... I know its difficult when you have passed on ... I'd like to treat him to a pint of best English Ale at my local pub.

We may not discuss hunting any more but the lads are always reminiscing about the great Welsh rugby players of the past. That time when Duncan Edwards ran past 5 towering All Black defenders before slipping the ball to Barry John and ......

We would all be spellbound to hear of hunting bears or wolves or buffalo in the Great American West!

MsHellion said...

Mo, Deerhunter spoke at his father's funeral. I was amazed by the strength to do so. Good for you! It sounds like a beautiful story and I'm sure he was glad you shared it with those who also loved him.

I didn't realize how much of a mountain man he was until the funeral when they had the pictures up, and there are a bunch of pictures of him dressed in buckskins, holding a blackpowder rifle.

TerriOsburn said...

Such a lovely poem. And from what you've said it does fit the man for whom it was written. I'm not one for poetry but I have written song lyrics, which is really just poetry set to a melody. Though I haven't done that in years.

I had to think about the question regarding fathers in my books and I tend to write them big and burly and a bit brusk. My dad is not big or burly and he's a total flirt so I'm not sure where this father template came from.

MsHellion said...

Thank you, Q. :) Maybe he is, but I imagine he'd cuss me if he is. *LOL* The man did not know what to do with tears, not at all. *LOL* But maybe he'll admit it at the Rendezvous--after he bawls me out for making a fuss.

I think he'd like that, Q--as well as a glass of your best Scotch. :) You could get into a debate about who makes the best whiskey.

*LOL* I'm sure he'd come up with some spellbinding stories for you then! He was a great storyteller. Those boys always are, especially if it's about hunting. They sometimes cross over each other's stories and take over if you're not careful.

MsHellion said...

Thank you, Terri. I'm pretty sure Deerhunter's dad helped me write it--he'd tell me when I was being too flowery and make me pull out lines and words.

Your dad and Deerhunter's dad sound alike. That's the first thing I remember about him--what a flirt. I was some green little 18 year old and he was outrageous. Of course, that whole family of boys is outrageous. It's in the DNA. Still, if he wasn't flirting with you, he was telling you stuff you didn't know. *LOL* Great history buff.

TerriOsburn said...

My dad could flirt with furniture but he's also obviously harmless so it just makes it funny. I'm positive this old cowboy is sitting around a heavenly camp fire telling stories, drinking the best liquor, and smiling from ear to ear.

MsHellion said...

I wouldn't doubt it, Ter. He was always smiling and laughing. Good man.

Janga said...

Your poem is lovely and moving, Hellie. My sympathy to Deerhunter and you and all who mourn the loss of one who was clearly a special man.

I agree that Daddies are special. I love your FB posts about your dad. I still miss mine. I blogged about him Father's Day 2011 and part of the post was a prose poem I wrote for him before his death. Your mention of never crying reminded me of him. The first paragraph of my prose poem mentions that: "My father laughs loudly at bad jokes and drinks beer furtively. He believes in God and FDR and Willie Nelson. He drives a black pickup with a gun rack across the rear window and reads Westerns by Louis L’Amour. He knows real men work hard, protect their women, and never cry."

I watched the Lisa Kleypas movie last night and cried--not during the movie but during the Hallmark commercials, particularly the one that showed two daughters finding that their father had saved all the cards they had sent him through the years. That reminded me so much of my dad.

MsHellion said...

I love that poem! That sounds like him: "He knows real men work hard, protect their women, and never cry." That sounds like him all over and what he taught his sons--they're very much like that. (Well, Deerhunter is a little sentimental, but I love that about him so he should be given a pass.)

I watched the Lisa Kleypas movie last night too! And the Hallmark commercials were KILLING ME! The one with the lost card the guy delivers and the woman starts crying when she reads it. OMG!

I was sifting though some stuff on my dad's desk, and he keeps a lot of our cards too. He's kept cards I have given him, his sisters had given him, Christmas cards from beloved neighbors. *sighs* He can be sentimental too.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Lovely poem and a wonderful way to celebrate Deerhunter's Dad.

I always regretted not speaking at my Father's funeral but it was too much for me at the time. I can only image how hard it was for Deerhunter and for you Chance.

My fav memories of my Dad are of him being completely silly and dancing around the house singing Elvis songs. I would laugh and sing along and he would ham it up even more. My Dad was quite the funny man and loved to make a fool of himself to make me smile.

P. Kirby said...

Raising a toast to Deerhunter's dad in a non-fussy way. And what a lovely poem. I always like reading your FB posts about your own dad.

MsHellion said...

Sabrina, thank you. When I lost my mother, I couldn't imagine speaking at her funeral; I was so lost. I know Deerhunter is feeling pretty lost right now so the fact he was still able to do that was pretty amazing.

Your dad sounds like a hoot! I can totally see that--sounds like one of those montage moments in movies, you know?

I think my dad liked to make me yelp in fear. He used to chase me with the vacuum cleaner and laugh whenever I freaked out. (I'm so cat-like!) Practical joker.

Deerhunter's dad had a skunk-skin cap, which he held in his arms like it was a sleeping pet, and he'd make the tail wiggle so kids would think it was real--and when they'd get close enough to pet it, he'd make a fiercesome noise that make the kids squeal and leap back from the danger. *LOL* That is so something my dad would do. Country boys.

MsHellion said...

P.Kirby, I think Deerhunter's dad would have loved to have met your jihad pony. *LOL* He loved horses and was good with them.

And my Dad stories on FB are all but written by Dad. The man is a hoot.

Marnee Bailey said...

I'm late to the party, thanks to chaos here this morning.

But, I'll raise a glass of wine to the Senior Deerhunter. And what a lovely poem, Hells. Truly. You gots talent oozing out of ever direction. :)

I lost my dad a month after I got married. He'd probably been sick for a while but I don't think he would have handled the "cure" for what he had and he knew it. So he just chose to go out his own way. Which fits him perfectly.

I take after my dad. My brother and sister are quieter, more like my mama. And though I'm not necessarily the loudest person you'll ever meet, I hold my own and I can be a bit outrageous. Though I'm not telling you guys anything you didn't know, I suppose. I get that from my dad.

My dad was full of it, that was for sure. I remember at a swim meet--Districts--I was so disappointed that I came in third. I didn't make it to States, thanks to a few fractions of a second, and I was incredibly frustrated. I remember getting out of that pool and meeting my parents in the hall outside. My mom was herself: warm, full of sympathy, her heart like most mothers' hearts--full of happy when her child is happy and full of sad when her child is sad. I hugged her first, because I knew she was as upset as I was. But, when I turned to my dad, he gave me this sort of side hug and kissed me on the temple. And he said, "You know what, kid, you might not have won, but you were just like a Tampax... right up in there."

I remember laughing. And suddenly it was okay. Because he was right. I'd done my best. And as long as those two people knew I did my best, then the world was okay by me.

MsHellion said...

Thank you, Marn. Yeah, my aunt did that with her bone cancer. She was very much an "own terms" gal, as were all her siblings!

That story--OMG--that's hysterical. I started laughing so hard, the coworker checked on me, convinced I was laughing about other emails, but no, I shared the story and she burst out laughing too. And we both agreed our fathers would NEVER utter the word "tampax" in a sentence, let alone as a consolation moment. But reading it, yes, I can see how it made you feel better though. Keep you from crying. Can't go back in time and change it; in five years it won't matter; and you might as well laugh...

Great story, Marn!

irisheyes said...

I'm getting very teary-eyed at all the Daddy remembrances. Marn, your dad sounded like a real hoot! I can't even wrap my brain around my dad even saying Tampax, let alone using it in that sentence. LOL

My dad and I had a very tenuous relationship, at least on my side. I've been told over and over by six other siblings that I was the favorite - the baby girl. Unfortunately, I couldn't see it most of the time and when I did it just got me madder. Through the grace of God before he died, I finally saw my father through someone else's impartial, generous eye (my DH) and came to appreciate his good qualities. He was a responsible, hard working, honorable, and trustworthy father of 7 in a world that was changing from what he knew and what he was comfortable with. Like most men of his era he had a hard time talking about or showing emotions. He dug deep inside, though, and pulled out an "I'm proud of you", "I love you" and more importantly "I'm sorry if I couldn't be what you needed me to be" about a month before he died. Just thinking about it makes me cry and smile at the same time.

It sounds like Deerhunter's dad was exactly what he needed him to be and more. I salute his dad. I salute Deerhunter for having the fortitude to get up and honor him at his funeral. I also salute you, Hellie, for being able to put your feelings so eloquently into beautiful words.

MsHellion said...

Irish, the daddy remembrances are making me cry too. Or at least sniffle. I'm so, so glad you were able to see the positive qualities of your father with the help of your hubby. What a gift! *HUGS* No man is perfect, no perfect fathers, but there are moments of perfection to cherish, you know?

Thank you for the salutes. I appreciate them; and I'm sure Deerhunter and his daddy do too.

Maureen said...

I know that I had to speak at Dad's funeral. I so wish I could find that picture with the lupin... And I quoted Whitman, about ..."Missing me at one place, look for me at another. I pause, waiting for you..." Something like that...

MsHellion said...

Finally...a reason to like Walt Whitman. That fits perfectly, doesn't it?