An Old Hunting Story – Part 3
It’s been a while since I last wrote one of these “Tales From Wheat Creek” stories. I have had a few health problems, myself, that I was dealing with. Now, however, I am back to my normal self. Or, at least as normal as I can be!
During my absence from writing, I stayed in contact with John. In fact, the few visits, and many phone calls from John, helped me through my own ordeal. As my health improved, I got back into my routine of visiting John every Saturday. Every visit John talked more and more about his farm. Finally, I asked John for the address and told him I would like to drive by there and look at it one day. I told him that I would take a picture or two and give him an update the following Saturday.
The following day after church, Jeanne and I set out to find John’s farm. His directions were perfect. “Seven miles south of the feed store there will be a Y in the road, take the right one. One mile from there, turn right, or back west. You should see a big windmill and a white two-rail fence on the north side of the road. That’s the start of my farm. I own that two-hundred acres on that hillside. You will come to a green electric gate and a paved driveway. As you can’t get in there, go pass the creek, and you will see a house that sets a bit off the road. That’s the kid’s house that I pay to take care of my farm. Give this note to Harry and he will show you around.”
Everything was as John had said. We found the gate and Harry’s drive. I must admit, I was excited just thinking that I would actually get to see John’s farm. So many of his stories started or ended there that I just knew that being there would breathe life into the stories. And boy did it!
I had phoned Harry the day before and introduced myself and let him know that Jeanne and I would be stopping by. He said that John had called him as well. He said that he and John had been in regular contact since John had reached out and contacted him some seven or eight months ago. Apparently, after my first visit, John had reached back out to Harry and stayed in contact thereafter.
Harry said that about three years ago, John had fallen and broken his hip. He said that John had called him shortly thereafter and said that he would like to pay him to take care of his place. “John told me that if I would look after his place, he’d pay me. I told him I didn’t need any money for that, but he insisted. And every month, like clockwork, we get a check. John also said I could farm it, and keep any profits, too.” Harry continued, “So, since that day, my wife Lori and I, with the help of our youngin’s, have looked after the place. Now that Lizzy is ten and little Harry is nearly eight, they have been a big help, too! We started a college fund for the kids, and every dollar we have gotten from John and every dollar I have made farming the place, has gone into that fund.”
After meeting the rest of Harry’s family, he drove Jeanne and I the backway up to John’s house. It was a big, beautiful brick home. In the back there was a large orchard of mature fruit trees. There was a veranda with a large porch swing out back, as well. He took us in through the walk- in basement and my jaw dropped. I had never seen such an incredible trophy room. There were elk, moose, antelope, buffalo, and tons of deer. There were animals from Africa and New Zealand, and some animals, I didn’t even know what they were. There were full mounted bears, and even a full mounted wolf. And right in front of the large stone fireplace was a large grizzly bear rug. I had to smile when I saw that!
The place was immaculate. Everything was neat and tidy. Not a speck of dust anywhere. Harry said that he and Lori treated the place like their own and acted like John would return any day.
Right then and there I decided that I wanted to take John home for Thanksgiving. I knew that with the help of Jeanne, Harry and Lori, we could pull that off and make it a special Thanksgiving surprise for John. I snapped a few pictures as we discussed our plan. When we pulled out of Harry’s driveway a little later, Jeanne and I couldn’t stop talking about how excited we were that John might get to go back home for Thanksgiving.
The following Saturday I had a little extra pep in my step as I walked into the Wheat Creek Golden Age facility. When I walked through the front door, I was surprised to see John sitting at one of the common area tables playing cards with another older fellow. John’s state of mind had really picked up since my first visit, nearly a year ago. John excused himself, and we walked back to his room.
After getting us each a cup of coffee, I handed John my phone so he could look at the pictures of his farm I had taken. Boy, was he excited. He commented about the excellent care that Harry and Lori had taken, and he started telling me about this mount or that one. I could tell that just seeing his home brightened his spirits. So, I told John about our plan for him to go home for Thanksgiving. He had tears in his eyes when he said, “Are you serious? Are you really willing to do that? Do you think that I am physically capable of doing that? Can we have Thanksgiving dinner there? Oh Keith, I can’t believe this!”
I assured John that, yes, we were serious and that, yes, he was more than capable of going home for a day. And, yes, we would be sharing Thanksgiving dinner at his house! As Thanksgiving was the following week, when I left John’s room, I told him I would see him on Thursday. We both had tears in our eyes as I closed the door to his room.
Founder of Hunter Nation