For everything there is a season

September 30, 1994|By Helen Twining Kadlec

A FLOCK of Canadian geese flew over my home today -- a sure sign of the changing seasons.

Their loud honking noise and V-formation flight brought memories of my Dad to me. He loved to go goose hunting in Kent County on the Eastern Shore, and until his death last year, he and his brother eagerly awaited the opening day of the season. Hunting was their reward for working hard on the farm all summer.

Since the trip from our family farm to the rented hunting ground took two hours, he would arise at 4 a.m. so he could be at their site when the sun came up. Armed with his shot gun, shells, license, thermos of hot coffee, and a bag of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, he would leave in the dark in eager anticipation of the hours ahead.

Sometimes the weather was cold, raining or snowing -- not conducive for leaving a warm bed to be outdoors. When I asked him why he did this by choice, he would reply, "You have to suffer if you want to shoot a goose." (He couldn't have suffered too much because he was always ready for the next hunting day!)

Watching the geese in flight, particularly when they flew slow and low, gave him tremendous pleasure -- a scene he would relive over and over again for our family.

Of course, the time that our son brought Watching the geese in flight, particularly when they flew slow and low, gave him tremendous pleasure -- a scene he would relive over and over again for our family.

down three geese with one shot was a feat he never did get over.

Last fall, Dad and his brother gave up their hunting rights because they both became ill. Dad began to have a series of little strokes, and his brother was weakened by leukemia. Sometimes Dad rode to the shore with a neighbor, but they couldn't trust his ability to use his gun accurately. His bad knee kept him from walking very far when they reached the site.

Those birds in flight must have represented to him the freedom to go places easily, a taken-for-granted skill he was losing.

Each stroke took its toll on him, as he found it more difficult to even walk around the house and to remember things.

Soon he was hospitalized and given physical therapy to try to improve the left side of his body affected by another stroke.

Eventually, he was confined to a wheelchair and attached to a belt so he wouldn't fall if he tried to get out. His world was small, given only to the routines of daily living. He couldn't identify the people who came to see him, and when he went into a coma, he didn't know me, either.

Dad is at rest now, set free from a physical body that wouldn't work anymore. This fall as I see the geese fly by, they seem to be telling me that Dad has gone to heights unknown -- at peace in a new happy-hunting ground.

:. Helen Twining Kadlec writes from Glen Arm.

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