Duck Hunting with Dad.
Jerry a good friend and I were down duck hunting in the Arkansas Valley in Southeast Colorado. My dad was coming down a few days later to hunt with us. He got his own room in the motel. Later we had dinner together before turning in for the night. We would have to get up early the next morning.
Duck hunting is an early morning activity. Jerry and I were like a finely tuned machine with our early morning routine. Today was no exception.
I called dad’s room that morning to make sure he was awake and getting ready. I can hear the phone ringing from across the hallway in my room. Ring, ring, and ring some more no answer from dad. So I try again in a few minutes to no avail.
I decide to risk the ire of surrounding motel guest by knocking on his door. Bang, bang, bang several people came to their door sleepily looking at me. None of them were dad, so what the heck do you do? I went outside and banged on the window to his room. Absolutely nothing, he was not stirring.
Dad by this time in his life already had coronary bypass surgery with four grafts several years earlier. He was not in the picture of health. He also had significant hearing loss, something I gave him an incredible amount of grief about when he was not wearing his hearing aids. God got even with me on that transgression, I understand hearing loss from a firsthand experience these days.
It occurred to Jerry and I he may have passed away. We talked it over, and decided whatever the cause for his delay. We decided to go hunting and sort things out later. A day duck hunting should not to be squandered lightly.
As luck would have it as we are walking down the hallway a sleepy dad opens his door. I told him he had about ten minutes to make that morning’s trip to the duck blind. He was in the truck and ready to roll 8 minutes later. We had an excellent morning hunting. As a bonus we had the entire afternoon available since we were not going to have to make funeral arrangements.
Death from a Pepper.
This story is much later in dad’s life. We were living in Idaho by that time the kids were growing up. Dad had moved to Idaho a few months after we did. His health by this time was failing. It did not prevent him from enjoying our time together. His grandchildren got to know him and he enjoyed them and all the activities they were involved in. The kids loved their grandpa, and he loved them.
I mentioned in the previous story his history of heart disease. He was in his late seventies and declining. When he showed up at the house up smelling like a cigar, he’d deny any sort of smoking. To his credit he had quit drinking 23 years earlier. It was a gift to all of us that did not go unappreciated.
Anyway we were eating dinner at our home in Idaho one night. A friend had given me a bottle of Cajun Pepper sauce called Slap Yo Mama. Dad loved peppers and pepper sauce so I put it on the table. I knew he would enjoy it.
He did too, and used it liberally during dinner. A bead of sweat developed on his forehead. Wylie by this time was a voracious reader and picked up the bottle. He reads the information on the bottle, on the back was a warning.
WARNING: This sauce should not be used by people with a history of respiratory or cardiovascular disease. Its use can lead to death.
We all just sat there. First we looked at each other. I am thinking jiminy I killed dad with pepper sauce. The grandkids turned their attention to their grandpa. There was genuine concern. Dad could not hear Wylie when he initially read the warning and wondered why we were all looking at him. Wylie read him the warning again much louder this time.
Dad had a good laugh. It looked like he was going to survive the pepper sauce and everyone calmed down, but kept an eye on him the over the next half hour.