This blog will be slightly different than all my others, but I appreciate you reading 🙂
I cannot remember a time I didn’t have a book in my hand. My mom was an avid reader of the horror genre, so even as early as eight I can remember consuming Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul. Still some of my favorites. But my dad was a lover of the ‘coming of age; a young boy and his dogs’ kind of stories. (well, and Westerns of course)
The first book I can remember him giving me, and us actually discussing, was Where the Red Fern Grows. He even had a coonhound named Little Ann the last several years.
If you don’t know this book, it follows Billy Colman who comes across an ad in a newspaper about coonhound puppies. He saves for two years in order to purchase them doing odd jobs. His family was very poor, so just getting them home turns into an adventure. On the way home he finds a tree with the names Dan and Ann carved in the trunk and so names the puppies Old Dan and Little Ann. Both dogs turn out to be tremendous hunting dogs, which drives the rest of the story. Like all coming of age stories, there are moments of celebration and some crying. If you haven’t read this, keep a box of tissues close when you do!
This book was written in 1961 and was made into a movie in 1974, but the book was what connected us, and until recently, would still come up in conversations. I’m always slightly amazed at how one book can be the force that binds people at times. When there was nothing else to say, one of us would bring it up. It’s funny what you don’t realize until after the fact.
The daddy from my youth was playful, loud, and intimidating. This is the guy I love to think about now. In my late teens/early twenties we went through a rough patch. A lot of things changing in both our lives. We struggled through my parent’s divorce, the loss of my younger sister, and living in different states. But we made it through, and while we were never as close as we were before all those things, we did survive it.
He died on Saturday evening after two years of battling cancer. He fought like hell, but in the end the peace he finally found was not in this world.
For me, I’ll go back and read Where the Red Fern Grows (again for the umpteenth time), think on the man who introduced me to one of my all-time favorite books, and have pride in the man who fought like hell to be there for his family and friends until the very end.
RIP Daddy. Much love from us earthbound folks. ❤