There are moments in life where we pause and we take it all in. Those times where we sit down on the tailgate after removing our boots, pour a lid of luke-warm coffee from this morning’s thermos, and for a moment we just consider the day.
I had one of those moments last October. Standing on a mountain in Wyoming on the last walk back to the truck after a week-long elk hunt with my Father and my Son. We stood on the western slope of the Big Horns at nearly 10,000 feet elevation, and across the Big Horn Basin, the sun was setting over the Rockies. We had just spent 12 miles of boot leather in shin-deep snow tracking down a herd of elk, and though we came back to the truck empty-handed, the memories of that day, and that week, will last a lifetime. As we neared the truck, at the crest of the hill, we stopped. We looked out across the landscape at the setting sun, we thanked our Creator for such a beautiful setting and for the week we had just had, and I fought back tears. I understood this was the last hunt for a while, or maybe ever, that the three of us would share together.
In life, these moments are precious, but they are the ones we hold on to. They are the ones we think about on winter nights as we sit beside the fire sipping bourbon waiting on the cold of the season to pass. These are the moments we have to go create in life, or the memories will never come.
And sometimes in life these moments come faster than we would like, but they still come. Everything has a season and so life moves on and we must move with it.
Today I will take the boy who has been my constant fishing partner for the last sixteen years and drop him off so he can embark on the biggest adventure of his young life with he U.S. Army. We spent yesterday together doing what we have done at least a hundred times before: beating around the mountains of West Virginia in my truck searching for streams and beautiful places. Like most trips, it wasn’t so much about the fishing as it was the time together.
When we are parents, ever day leads quietly into the next, a long journey over which the destination is constant but elusive. Then, one day, all too suddenly, it arrives, and the boy is now a man. It is a beautiful thing. It is a hard thing. It is precious in its own way.
So I hand off to the Army a young man full of potential, strong in leadership, heavy in experience with the outdoors and firearms; a man with a strong Faith in God, a soft heart for those around him, and the most loyal person I have ever known.
There will be more fishing trips. Of that I am certain. But for this part of life, my work is done. I will declare this work an absolute success. I am proud of my Son and the man and he has become.