Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)
TITLE: Dad In Plaid
By Connie Dixon
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Dad was definitely a “man’s man”. He loved to hunt, mostly deer and birds – grouse or pheasant. He had a great affection for guns. In fact, when he was outside of the city, he almost always carried his .22 pistol with him, on his hip – in a holster. His theory was, “You never know when you might need it!” He loved old John Wayne movies and I think packin’ a pistol allowed him to feel a little bit more of a kindred spirit to ol’ John.
Dad always wanted a boy – someone to hunt with, someone to take fishing, ride motorcycles with – you know: “guy stuff”. After my two older sisters were born, he pretty much gave up on this father-son dream. Then one day, seven years later, SURPRISE!!! Mom got pregnant with their third child…a boy named Larry.
When the delivery time came, Dad told Mom she’d have to wait ‘cause he was right in the middle of skinnin’ a deer. (Dad loved Daniel Boone, too!) Well, Mom wasn’t waitin’ for nothin’ and Dad knew he better leave that deer hangin’ and drive my mom to the hospital. A few short hours later, Larry was screamin’ his head off – but to Dad’s disappointment, Larry turned out to be Susan and when Dad got home he finished skinnin’ that deer…alone.
My two older sisters looked a lot like my Mom, but I (Susan) had taken on some of my dad’s features. I had his physique and his nose, although I didn’t quite get the total Jimmy Durante makeover, but a smaller, more charming look-alike.
I think Dad resigned himself to having all girls, and he finally figured out he may as well try to make it work. Eventually there were four of us. We all grew up on westerns, camping, dirt bikes and the outdoors. I loved fishing, but when it came to hunting, I did not share Dad’s enthusiasm. He bought lots of junk food to get me to go along but I never had the desire to point a gun at one of those helpless creatures in the wild.
So, getting back to the beginning and that first memory; I really wanted some cowboy boots for Christmas but Mom was totally against it. She said boots would snag the new couch and her answer to them was a firm “no”.
A few days before Christmas, on my birthday, Dad came home packing this big box with you guessed it…boots! Not just any boots either. To my mom’s horror, these black boots each had a great big shiny buckle. That special gift from my dad qualified him as my hero. After that incident, we developed a unique bond that no longer required a son to provide him the happiness he so often longed for.
Besides our shared love for outdoor activities, we both loved jam sessions, going on long drives, ice cream and…plaid. Dad always wore those wool, red and black, plaid hunting shirts, and not only when he was hunting. When I look back at old pictures of my family, all of us, even my mom, were dressed in plaid flannel shirts. Now, many years later, I will occasionally dig one of Dad’s old shirts out of the closet and wear it, just to feel a little closer to that first man in my life.
Dad is gone now, but not forgotten. If you ever knew Gene Hunter, you would remember him as “The Great White Hunter.” All of his friends referred to him this way as far back as I can remember.
With Dad’s death came the end of our family name. Unfortunately, out of four daughters, there was no one to carry on the Hunter lineage. But though the name ended, Dad’s love, laughter, enthusiasm and passion for music continues on through the legacy he leaves in my Mom and us four girls. We will always cherish the memories of a hero who was able to conquer anything and everything, but death itself.
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