|Nancy, Millie, AJ, and Ben|
This is our family now, minus the German shorthair pointer who is too incredibly lively to hold still. A beautiful friend, Charlotte, took time out of her busy schedule to come and photograph us for the Proverbs 31 website. There are several good ones, but this is a boy favorite because it includes Millie the cat.
Today marks 10 months since my husband's death. I can hardly believe it. There's been so much accomplished, but there's so much left to do. I miss him. I made a trip to his office today, to return loaner fishing poles that friends had used over the weekend. I drove his truck to get there. I believe if I could put it on automatic pilot, it would take me there with no problem. For almost 20 years he worked there, 40 hours a week.
I stepped into his office, where I've been working off and on for the past two months, trying to pack up all of his belongings. Today was my final packing day, I worked to fill the fourth huge container with publications and American Fisheries Society magazines that began in 1988, the year we married.
One last look through his desk, just to ensure I'd gotten everything....and I got a surprise. Two pheasant's feet, with a wee bit of feathers still on the ends. Why in the world did he save those? They were tucked under some other items. It made me chuckle and shake my head as I pulled the crazy things out.
Whenever he harvested a male pheasant in Kansas, he followed all laws to a "T", which meant he would leave one leg and foot attached on the dressed out bird. That would show anyone that might want to look at his game that his bird was indeed a male (females are not shot). My guess is that his "waste not, want not" mentality just would not allow him to toss the feet here at home. Keeping those in his desk drawer was safe. He could pull them out at his leisure, reminiscing about past hunts. Hunts with his dad, his friends.....and dream about the day he'd take his own sons out to hunt.
Unfortunately he'll never take AJ and Ben out on our family land in KS to hunt pheasant. That's my job now. It'll never seem fair, but that's the way things are. As I put the lid on the final container, I felt like another chapter had been closed along with it. I was sad, that's for sure. But that's not his office anymore. It was just a space that he inhabited for 20 years, where he did a darn good job of managing the lakes and streams and rivers for his region of this great state. His coworkers loaded two of the four containers in the back of my truck, and I headed for home, pheasant claws beside me on the passenger seat.
The boys got a chuckle out of the feet, too, and AJ remembered that his dad would save them while dressing the bird. Lucky for me, the boy has seen quail and pheasant cleaned and dressed several times, because that's one thing I haven't the slightest idea how to do.
"I won't give you more, more than you can take. And I might let you bend, but I won't let you break. And know I'll never ever let you go." Don't you forget what He said.....
Bent, but not broken.
Full plate, full schedules, many responsibilities....but we're managing.
Sometimes cry? Yes, often.
Do we laugh? Oh, yeah, a lot! You can't live with two lively boys and not laugh most of the time.
Do we miss him? Yes, to the depths of our souls. But we know where he is. And we have the certainty that we will see him again.
Is he proud of us? Yes, I think he is.
Look at the photo below: The first time I saw it, I could not get over the look of love in my boys' eyes as their arms draped around me. I know they love me, but the depth that is in their eyes....I wasn't prepared for that. My boys' love and trust, along with God's love---with these, I feel I can do most anything....