A bit over 40 years ago, Dad took my future husband down to the river with us for a little pot shotting. Bob Brown let Dad go down there any time he wanted to go because he had known Dad all of his life and trusted him to shoot turtles and not cows. Now Bob’s son lets Dad carry a key to the gate so Dad can go whenever he takes the notion; but Dad’s notions and his physical abilities aren’t quite up to par anymore. In fact, I felt somewhat anxious as I noticed that Dad was not as steady on his feet as he should have been as he leaned over the edge of the embankment to look for turtles or turdles—the latter being floating excrement dumped into the river at some point. Anyway, Dad may be blind in one eye and not see well out of the other, but he still spotted a snake and laid into it with his shotgun. And he was polite enough to say that he was never much of a shot with a pistol when I missed a perfectly easy shot with Mom’s little .22.
The husband entertained two grandchildren, Landon and Rachel, with the .22 automatic rifle and a BB gun. They threw in a few branches for targets and cut them up into soggy kindling. Both kids were worn out, and their granddad needed a nap by the time we got back to Petrolia and unloaded the guns at Paw Paw Leland’s house. Someday the boy may remember his trip to the river with Paw Paw, but Little Girl probably won’t remember it. Paw Paw gave Landon a whistle and told him to drive his Ma nuts with it on the way home. Landon took it, said thanks, and grinned at me. He is a pretty danged good little guy. He only whistled quietly.
But I guess the best part of the trip was sitting in the front of the truck with my dad as I drove down the road with one eye partially on the road and one eye and both ears on the husband and kids in the bed of the truck. I know we used to let our kids ride back there with one of us, but these are grandbabies, for pity sake! And yes, I am kin to Leland Pollard! We have worrying down to a fine art. But it was nice to visit with Dad. While we sat on the river bank together, we talked—or he did. I listened. He reminded me that this had always been a good place for him to pray for all these years. No church pew is nearly as effective as God’s front row seat on His creation. I am glad—thankful—that my parents raised me the way that they did. They shared their worries, their hopes, and their values in the best way that they could. It doesn’t take a river trip to understand that they kept back nothing of themselves when they gave their love to us as kids—and still give to us and our little ones today. I hope that we can give as graciously to our children and grandchildren as they have.