Over the past couple of weekends I've been sitting in the woods. That quiet time alone sometimes get's a guy reminiscing about the past. I started hunting white tailed deer when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I borrowed my Uncle Nick's .410 and hunted on my Grandparents land. I don't remember much about the hunting that year but I do remember going in to my Grandma and Grandpa Meyers house when I got cold. Grandma made her famous flapjacks and I worked on a puzzle with Grandpa while I warmed up. In my memory my brother was there too, but I don't remember if he joined that year or in the year or two after. My Dad, Cousin Phil and Uncle Nick came in and I sat there and listened to stories. Usually told by my Grandpa and Uncle. I probably hunted there until I graduated high school. Over the years, also sharing some hunting with my Uncles Jim or Steve and other cousins were in the mix. Those were great years and great memories.
After college was over I decided to start hunting again. My brother had found a different hunting party. He had milked cows for The Samuelson's (Richard & Jerrie, Jeff & Sue) and they were willing to allow us to hunt with them. We had a great group of guys and some fun hunting. Richard, Jeff, John, Mike, Justin, Jeff T., Kyle R., my brother and I were the usual suspects. Occasionally someone else would join but that was the core. We would sit in the morning for a while, push woods for a while and head to the farm for lunch and stories. Richard and Jerrie were always gracious to host. As we filed through to grab some food, Jerrie would usually be hustling about the kitchen as Richard would be on a stool at the peninsula drinking coffee and telling a story or joke with that memorable smirk of his. I probably hunted there until about five years ago. Those were some great years and great memories.
Over the past 5 years I've hunted in a few different places. Some by myself, some with my Dad, my sister Sara, my brother and his son and now with my daughter and son. My Grandpa Cysiewski gave me his hunting jacket at least 20 years ago. He will be 90 in March and I still wear that jacket today. It makes me think of him every time I put it on. After writing that sentence I had to pick up the phone and call him. My Grandma Cysiewski answered so I talked with her...she has never hunted but she might be the best story teller I've ever met. Her memory is so great and the stories she shares about her childhood make me feel like I was there with her. Sorry for the tangent there.
Where am I going with this? Good question. Replace hunting with any past time or place...fishing, baseball, quilting, football, cribbage, woodworking, car restoration/repair, a vacation, the cabin, your Church, your home...the list is endless. The great part is, it's your story and they are your memories and you get to pick the people that are part of those stories and memories. You get to pick the highlight reel of what you remember and you get to share it with the people you want to hear it. It's not about the past time or the material things that were there or the outcome of the game or anything of the sort. It's about the people you shared the experience with.
Now that we are in a technological advanced world, telling those stories through pictures and video and connecting through social media and the internet has become easier...but now much less personal. Take some time to make personal contact right now. No texting, no facebook messenger. At a COVID time, a phone call the old fashioned way (minus the cord) might have to do instead of a face to face. If you end up doing a zoom call record it. Ask that person to tell your favorite story and keep the recording (you know the story...it's the one they always tell). Keep it on your computer.
As we enter the holiday season it can be a hard time to share those memories of the one's who are part of our story who are no longer physically with us. My Grandpa Meyers died in 2001 and my Grandma in 2007. I teared up when I wrote the first paragraph of this blog with those memories. Same with so many others who I have great memories of like Richard, Dennis, Scott, Bob, Ryan, Josh and so many great people that I've got to know over the years. That bit of sadness might not ever go away because I will always miss them...but that doesn't take away the great years and great memories.
I am not sure how long my kids will continue to hunt or what their past times will be. My goal is to share stories and memories with them about the people I've shared past times with. God willing they'll share some memories about their Dad someday.