Coon Hunter

“He was a coon hunter. He and his buddies were some of the only men I knew who went after coons at night. But he was also an artist..."

“Would you write a tribute about my dad?” John asked. “I don’t mean publicly, just something for my family, his birthday’s coming up. I wasn’t sure if you did that kinda thing.”

Well, not really, John, but how about a little information? Maybe I can help.

“Okay, he was an abused kid, our grandfather beat him and his brothers. Sometimes bad. My grandfather was awful, I believe that’s why my daddy never got mad about anything. Even when my brother backed the car into the garage… Dad just laughed.

“He worked in a pulp mill since the sixties, loved hunting dogs, he thought my mama was a frickin’ goddess, he liked humor, too. I think he would’a liked you.”

You’ve got my attention now, John.

“He was a coon hunter. He and his buddies were some of the only men I knew who went after coons at night. But he was also an artist. He painted, I still have lots of his paintings, and his wood carvings. When Mama died, he got into whittling pretty good.”

A coon-hunting millworker, who likes hounds, painting, and whittling. Keep talking.

“He carved bears, buffalo, coyotes, and all sorts of animals from out West. But it was funny, because in reality, he never really travelled anywhere outside Dallas County.

“Oh, and there’s one time, he saved someone’s life. Yeah, he was on his way home and saw a car on the shoulder, this guy was choking, dad said his face was purple, the guy would’a probably died.”

A good Samaritan.

“No, he was a Methodist, but not a serious one, you know?”

My favorite kind.

“Everyone invited him to parties, he was the life of parties, had a million jokes he could run through, like the one about the farmer’s daughter and the…”

This is a family story, John.

“After he died, our family kinda fell apart, it’s hard getting together, ’cause he was our glue. He was always planning something… Cooking on the grill… He liked to cook.

“We buried him with one of his coon hats, a painting he did of my mother, some notes from my kids, and his rifle. My sister had us put his hunting boots on him. I cried when we shut the lid. It was so final.”

I don’t blame you.

“I guess, I’d like my kids to know how easy it is to take your parents for granted. When they die, it’s just, you really wish you could’a spent a little more time with’em. But it don’t work that way.”

Look, John, I’d be happy to say a little something for your father. But there’s one problem.

You just said it better than I could.

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