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A little over a week ago, I sat high in a tree stand on a piece of property friends and I lease in Kansas.
As I passed the time watching more deer than you’ll see in an entire season here, and waiting for the right one to come by, I began to think about how fortunate I was to be there. Most hunters will never venture outside of their home territory to pursue their favorite game.
Over the course of my time there, I marveled at the size of the many deer I came into close proximity with and wondered what many of the hunters back home would think if they could see a doe that was as large as the majority of the 2-year-old bucks in South Carolina.
When I took a few shots at less than 20 yards away from a 3-year-old eight pointer that would push the scales at nearly 300 pounds, I couldn’t help but laugh to think what some of the guys at home would say if they knew I was shooting it with a camera instead of my bow that was resting on a hanger by my side.
They would surely call me crazy but, as large as it was, that buck still wasn’t what I had traveled to the state known as “the land of the giants” for. They get much better than that one.
On another day, I had several dozen pheasant rambling around at the base of my tree. It’s always fun to get to see creatures that don’t inhabit the area where you’re from.
This got me to thinking about what I’m thankful for this year – my family. More specifically, I’m thankful for two key members who are having a rough year.
During the summer, my uncle followed me when he became the next member of my immediate family to hear a doctor say you have cancer. I realize there are many out there who don’t consider an uncle to be part of the “immediate” family, but those folks obviously don’t know mine. In fact, it’s nothing for us to pack more than a dozen into a beach house for a week so we can all spend our vacations together.
We all spend our Saturdays in the fall tailgating and cheering on our Tigers at Clemson, and we see each other during the week for all kinds of reasons that don’t run on some sort of schedule.
During the 1990s, I lost my Uncle Pat and my Uncle Ed to untimely deaths. It was immediately after the second funeral I told my Uncle Jim he had to take care of himself.
He has kept his word to me by bravely taking on this battle and fighting back with all he has as he endures round after round of the not so pleasant treatments I’m all too familiar with. I’m extremely proud of him.
It was during my own experience with the disease that I witnessed a number of people who basically just gave up after a doctor gave them the news. Uncle Jim hasn’t. Instead, he’s worried more about my Aunt Marsha and the rest of the family than himself.
In August, my father found himself taking an unexpected ambulance ride that resulted in a week in the hospital. His doctors determined a traditional surgery to correct the cause of his heart-related problem was far too risky, but a newer procedure would take care of things.
As always seems to be the case, there was a catch. This newfangled technique would require an approval from the FDA for him to receive it and it wouldn’t come until late September.
We’re still waiting. My dad has had to bear several miserable months of weakness and an inability to do much of anything without struggling for breath. It’s like being on house arrest.
We pray this situation will be resolved soon, but everything seems to move at a snail’s pace.
So this year my Thanksgiving thoughts are focused on them. After all, these are two of the people who have affected my own life the most – a life that started, oddly enough, on Thanksgiving Day in 1967.
For all they’ve done and all that they will do, I’m thankful. And, for their very existence, I thank God because I love them dearly and just can’t imagine a life without them.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at bradharveyoutdoors.com.