oldfatslow

Tu tene eum procul; Ego curram ob auxilium!

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Remembering

This work was originally picked up by the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics (CRTA.org) and housed there for years.  It was picked up by a Christian women's magazine in Michigan and republished there.  Over the years, I received many positive comments until I switched emails and the one at CRTA no longer worked.  CRTA has revamped their website and was kind enough to send me a copy of my article to publish (with a few minor edits) here.

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The Psalmist writes, 

"Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?" 88:12 

And, 

"Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness." 88:18

My mother lives in that land of forgetfulness. On Memorial Day, 1993, my mom stopped remembering. She developed Alzheimer's. On that most ironic of days, she no longer knew my father. She liked him; she thought he was a nice old man; she called him Grandpa; she was impressed that an older gentleman could fall in love with her; but she did not know who he was. He died less than two months later of a heart that was broken as much as of a heart that just broke. After almost 53 years of love, he could not understand what had happened.

When Dad died, my mom went into a nursing home. A week later she fell and broke her hip. After that, she had two severe cases of cystitis and one of phlebitis all of which hospitalized her. She developed a bed sore on her back that kept her laid up in a special bed for months. At one point, she was completely out of it. She could not respond to anything. She sat slumped over - her head pillowed only by the tray on her wheelchair. I tried to feed her one day. She could not swallow much less chew what I gave her.

When things were the bleakest, she rallied back. Her health improved. Her appetite came back. The physical therapists even got her to walk some. She is still cracked up, but she has become a real crack up. The things she does, the things she says, and the things she says she does keep me laughing when I've been there and fill her caregiver and the nursing home staff with stories that they rush to tell me when I haven't.

One day when she was in her bed sore special bed, she looked up at me and said, "You're going to think this is so funny, but I was talking to someone today, and I couldn't remember your name."

I said, "It's Bill [my boyhood name], Mom."

She said, "Well, I KNOW that, but what's your last name? I went looking in that book where all the names are ...."

"The Phone Book, Mom?"

"Yes, that's it."

"Well, my name's Bill L***."

"Well, that explains it," she said - "I was looking under Mud."

I had to go walk out in the hall for a few minutes.

Another day, I was talking to her out in the sitting area. One of the other female inmates came up to her and growled, "Nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh." Mom looked at her and said with complete ease, "I'm sorry, I don't speak French. But, I believe my son does." [I don't parlez a single word in français.]

Mom fell in love and got engaged (in her head) to a 60 year old detainee named Dave. Their conversations were surreal. Like normal conversations Mom would say her part and wait while Dave said his part, and he did the same back. Only, Mom was discussing wedding plans and Dave was counting to one hundred. She broke up with him several times because "he didn't communicate very well." The staff told me of one time when she was still engaged: Mom was holding Dave's hand and she announced in a loud voice to the group, "May I have everyone's attention! I have an announcement! David and I are going to be married." A woman vistor was there. She said to Mom, "Excuse me. Who did you say you were marrying?" Mom said, "David *****." This woman was the REAL Mrs. David *****. She looked at Mom and said, "Oh well, the more the merrier. If you can get him down the aisle, more power to you."

Mom doesn't live in the past like the television portrayal of Alzheimer's. She lives in her own present world and has a great time. She's been to Russia, to Paris, to California, and lecturing down in the islands. The Lutherans are going to publish some of her poetry. She just went back to school and got her degree in Spanish (because she couldn't remember well enough to conjugate all the German verbs). She graduated with honors. She married a man who was 21 1/2. [If it's going to be imaginary, it might as well be fun.]

I love to quiz her on what she's been up to. The one rule I have is never to ask her, "Do you remember ....?" I don't want to stress her out, and I don't want to know if the answer is "No." For instance, I never ask her if she knows who I am. Sometimes, she introduces me as her brother Jerry, but that's all right - Jerry is a nice guy.

There is one question above all others that I have been reluctant to ask her: "Do you remember God?" I've been afraid to hear a negative answer. You see, there is *NOTHING* I can do to make her remember. If she has forgotten God, no amount of pleading or prompting can bring it back. I know. I tried it when she didn't know my dad.

Now, you can tell from my stories, that God hasn't forgotten her. And, you know what I found out the other day? She hasn't forgotten Him either. Our caregiver told my wife that Mom often goes out to the group and witnesses to them, prays with them, and tells them that they need to be saved. And, you know what else? Her former night nurse has had to quit because he is dying of AIDS. I don't know this, but maybe the only Gospel he has ever heard came from the lips of that sweet, crazy old mother of mine.

Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow. 

Update from "Bill":

My mother died peacefully in Sept. 1999
Over the years, I received numerous emails of encouragement and shared grief from folks. I have always been thankful to you for posting it on CRTA.
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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Stiff Wind, Stiff Tail

The last hunt of  the season was
yesterday.  I had to solo hunt since
my buddy was hunting in Texas.

I got up at 0200 and checked the
weather.  It was 50 degrees instead
of the forecast 44.  At 50, I haven't
needed a jacket, but I took one any-
way.  Better to be safe than sorry and
the wind was forecast 10-12 mph
with 20 mph gusts.  I thought there
might be some wind chill on the
marsh.

I got to the ramp at 0400 and it
was noticeably cooler than at the
house.  I was glad for the jacket.

Getting the kayak to the water
was an ordeal.  I couldn't get
the boat on the cart correctly,
but it worked well enough to
get down the hill and across
the levee.  Unfortunately,
when I unstrapped the boat,
I found that one of the
supporting arms had cracked.
Hauling it back up at the end
of the hunt would be by brute
force, but that was for later:  I
needed to get out to paddling.

With no GPS and no stars in
the sky, I had to navigate by
picking a cell tower in the east
and paddling towards that.

I tried several of the small
floating islands that I came
across, but none of them would
work:  no cover, no hydrilla, too
close to other hunters.  I paddled
east quite aways before I turned
back west and finally found a spot.

By now, the wind had really picked
up.  Since my dousing a few weeks
back, I was nervous trying to paddle
around, tow the sled and toss out
the dekes.  Nonetheless, I managed it.
One thing that made it easier was that
I only brought 5 ringer decoys and 12
coot decoys.  Still, I could only toss
one or two out at a time before I had
to paddle back into the NW wind
and start over. 

I decided to camo up on the west side
of the island in some low dollar weed
type stuff.  It took 4 or 5 tries to get the
boat angled right.  Much to my surprise
I found that all of my palmetto fans
had blown out of the sled and were
nowhere to be found.  I'd even managed
to lose the coot decoy bag.  I was fairly
exposed, but that's the way it had to
be.

I had an hour and a half to sit and wait
for 06:42 and shooting time.  Without
Mike to talk to, I was pretty bored. On
top of that small waves would slap
the back of the boat and jar my
memories of tipping over.  Also, I
was fairly cold in the wind that
had to be well over the forecast.

I had one distressing moment after
I was set up.  I looked in front and
saw the black mass of another island
right in front of me.  It would cut
me off from any birds flying in.
I looked and looked at it and it seemed
to be moving toward the wind.
I eventually figured out that it was
several hundred coots wadded
together.  And they did cut me
off all day.

When shooting time did come,
there wasn't much action from the
north side of the 4000 acre marsh.
That's where most folks hunt closer
to the bank and under more cover.
I feel like they spend a lot of time
"skybusting" and unable to get
the vistas that hunting farther out
gives me. 

By 0800, I hadn't fired a shot
because there were no ducks
near me.  There were no ducks
anywhere.  I looked to my left and
saw a duck swimming into my spread.
I wasn't going to waste the oppor-
tunity and shot it on the water.
I quickly pulled in my camo netting
and paddled over to it before the
wind blew it too far away.  Small
duck of a kind I didn't recognize
right away.  Turns out it was a
hen ruddy duck.  It is in the
family of stiff tailed ducks
because it will swim with its
tail feathers pointing up like
a sail.

Sometime later, I saw two ducks
flying low towards the island from
the east.  Instead of flying over
the decoys, they flew behind the
island.  I turned my body as hard
as I could and nailed a drake blue
wing teal with a tough over the
shoulder shot. Normal targeting
is from 10-12 o'clock out the
front of the boat. 

A new species!
















Finally, the ringers started flying,
but they wanted nothing to do
with my small spread of decoys.
All day long, I'd watch birds look
at my dekes and then turn to
join their buddies swimming with
hundreds of coots.   Way to the south
I could see hundreds of ducks
milling around and not even
flying up our way.  There's no
cover down there and paddling
that far is out of the question.

I didn't even wait for the 10 o'clock
duck.  At 0945, I unloaded the gun
and went to get my decoys.  I'd found
my decoy bag during one of the
retrieves, so that wasn't a loss.

Paddling back was an ordeal
because it was straight into
the wind.  But I ended the day
on the plus side - in fact - I
did better than anyone else I
talked to at the ramp.  One young
man was good enough to help
me tote the kayak up the hill to
my truck.  He kept a pretty fast
pace up and I was huffing and
puffing when we got done.

Here endeth the season. 

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

You've Got to Really Hate Ducks to Do This

Ugh, rough day yesterday.  Went out
to the area we limited in last week.  The
report was that the ducks weren't flying
like they had been and it proved true.
 I thought the December lull was over
and January might be the turn around -
it sure wasn't yesterday.

We headed out from the ramp at 0400
and paddled with a pretty good west
wind at our backs for a long ways
until we found a floating mud island
of beach daisies  and sticks.  Putting
the decoys out was exhausting because
the wind was pushing us out into the
impoundment so strongly.  But we
did get them all out and got ourselves
hidden in the island.

I faced due east and my buddy due
south.  We could see them coming
from all directions, but they were
mostly several hundred yards south
of us in big, open water.  A few
came in early, I dropped one that
landed four feet behind me.  Anchoring
it at that distance didn't leave much
duck.  My buddy had to water whack
his in the decoys after waiting five
minutes for it to jump up and fly.

While a few other chances presented
themselves, and I missed spectacularly,
most birds stayed outside the dekes.
We set 0900 as our give up time and
sure enough one flnal ringer came through
the decoys.  I hit it and it landed crippled
to my north.

I headed out to retrieve it hurriedly,  so
hurriedly in fact that I didn't think to
pull in the camo netting I had over the
bow and trailing in the water.  The
wind was really starting to blow by
then too.

I paddled out to the duck and took
three more shots to put its head
down.  Those hulls in the water proved
to be both disastrous and beneficial
for what happened next.  I got the bird
and then went to pick up the hulls..
I was broadside to the wind and
sliding up next to a hull.  I barely
reached over to grab the hull when
I giant force tipped the kayak over
and all my gear and I went into the
water. I think the trailing edge of the
camo netting grabbed the hydrilla and
pulled the kayak under.

Thankfully, the water wasn't as deep
as it had been last year, but it was still
chest deep.  I grabbed the netting,
my blind bag, a few things that could
float and tossed those back in the boat.
My gun, new GPS, and a box of shells
were gone.

I hollered for my buddy to come help
because I thought I could still find the
gun.  He paddled his layout boat over
and tried to hold my kayak and his in
place.  He started to drift off unable
to paddle and hold on to my boat.
Eventually, he secured a rope to
my boat's bow.  I had started to wade
after him, and had lost the place
where the gun sank.  Again,
thankfully, I had marked the spot
by two of my hulls stuck in the
hydrilla.

I waded back and forth for what
seemed like 20 minutes before I had
my Excalibur moment and kicked
the gun up with my feet.

I gave the gun and blind bag to
my buddy to hold in his boat
while I tried to get back in mine.
I had watched a video many months
back on how to get back in a kayak
from deep water.  It worked perfently
until I tried to swing my legs in.  The
waders were full of gallons of water
and I couldn't lift my legs from the
weight.  How I finally did, I don't
know.

We paddled back to the blind and
picked up our decoy sleds.  I got
my remaining gear back and headed
out to pick up dekes.  I didn't pay
too much attention and just tossed
my Texas rigged decoys in the sled.
(that was a mistake).

We had to paddle home into the
teeth of the wind.  I thought it was
just the additional weight of the
water in my waders and the strength
of the wind, but the Fowl Trouble
was paddling like it was named
the Fowl Scow.  My buddy was
back to the ramp 30 minutes
before I was.

When I got there, I had to get
out of the kayak and slosh up on
the levee to dump the water out
of my waders.  My buddy said
he wished he had a camera for
that moment.

He pulled my decoy sled up on
the bank.  Some of the decoy
weights had trailed in the water
and grabbed about thirty pounds
of hydrilla.  That was what was
making the paddling extra hard.

My first duck hunt started with my
flipping a canoe twenty years ago.
But it worked out when I got back
to the ramp and ran into that same
buddy coming in from his own
duck hunt.  He eventually hired
me back at my present company.

A couple of years ago, I got
ejected from my duck boat on
a solo hunt, but had no damage
to me, boat, or hunt.  My buddy
says I've never met a boat I
couldn't fall out of.

I completely stripped, cleaned,
and super oiled by gun.  My
IPhone is another matter.  It's
in a bowl of rice now, but I don't
expect it to live.  The waterproof
case and the zip lock bag it was
in kept out a lot of water, but not
enough.

I am very glad to be alive today.
Things could have been very
different.

"You've got to really hate ducks
to do this." says Joe Richter.


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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Against the Wind

Worked hard for this limit (first of the season)
last week. Six minutes before legal light, the
marsh opened up with shots ringing out. My
buddy and I couldn’t see what they were shooting
at. At 8:30 AM we only had two ducks down
and were watching distant dots as ducks flew
nowhere near us. But patience paid off. As
the sun got higher and the wind picked up,
more and more ringers flew past our spread
and some decoyed. The wind stiffened so
that they were almost standing still in the
breeze. I’m still learning how to hunt from 
the kayak, and went through a lot of shells. 
I dropped my sixth duck with my last shot 
and had to borrow a couple of shells to 
anchor it. 



















Picking up the decoys and paddling back in
the wind were tricky. The odd thing was that
some people were still shooting at 10:30 and
we beat most boats back to the ramp. Seems
like a lot of guys might have been sky
busting their day.


One really bright spot was the device Number
1 kid and I made to float my Mojo teal. It
worked perfectly and handled the wind like
a champ.

















We had a duck feast for Number 1 kid and
his family and Number 7 kid home on leave. 
Number 6 kid added his culinary talents. 
We had a whole wood duck, whole mottle,
and three whole bwts.  Tossed in a few snipe
and also had ringer breasts.   We marinated
all of it in Italian dressing.  The ringer breasts
were split open and stuffed with cream cheese
and pepperocini slice before being wrapped
in bacon.  All of it was then grilled over a
charcoal fire. 



















Served medium rare, it was great.

os

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Mid-Season Update

So far, the season has been a mixture.  I've hunted
by myself and with some buddies.  I've done better
hunting with others, but none of it has been stellar.

We had a wet summer right up until July 1th. After
that, we've been in a low level drought.  The local
WMA has been a bust and the surrounding public
lands have been just as slow.

I did scout one place that looked good before
the season.  Topped off hydrilla (duck candy)
for miles.  But the ducks have cleared off.



The one really good hunt I had started off
strange.  I was heading down a dirt stretch
on the way to ramp to meet my buddy and
his airboat.  I saw something running in
the road, swung around it, and saw it
was a Babe-sized pig. Unfortunately,
the little pig decided to commit suicide
and dove under my rear tires.  No damage
to the truck, but the pig wasn't in good
shape. Ended up dinner for the vultures.






My buddy, Mike T. and I had a pretty good day.
I got my first wood duck in years.  I thought
about mounting it, but it wasn't quite fully
plumed.


I went to scout one kayak friendly spot, but
the wind was too strong.  I got practice stowing
the kayak and gear in the truck





I also got to use the homemade kayak trolley.  Wow
does that make it easy to haul the kayak to the 
water.


But while I was there, I got to meet the FlukeMaster 
hisself.  My Navy boy watches his YouTube channel
 religiously.


Nice guy for a Georgia fan.

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Early Teal 2018

First time hunting out of the Fowl Trouble.

I had scouted a bit the week before.  The habitat looked
good, but I only saw two birds that might have been
ducks.  Senior, wishful eyes can sometimes be
deceived.  The river dropped several inches over
the week and I was glad this week was Early Teal.
A few weeks from now and it'll be only good for
snipe.

I got up Saturday morning and got out to the
ramp in good time.  There was another boat
launching.  I talked to one guy and he said
they had seen some groups when they scouted.
I hadn't been sure if Hurricane Florence hadn't
messed up the migration.

The first time I had paddled out to my spot in
the dark and I got lost in an area that shouldn't
have been that challenging.  It took a while of
paddling around trying to find landmarks and
trying to move fast enough to register on the
GPS until I figured out where I was and
got near my spot.  I had to get out of the
kayak and pull it through the smart weed to
find a hole with enough open water.  I
finally did, got the decoys out, the boat positioned,
and waited the 15 seconds until shooting time.

The time came and went, but there were no
ducks.  I could hear sporadic shooting in
the distance, but not much.  As the light
got brighter, I saw a slightly bigger and
better hole a little farther out.  So, I moved
the decoys to it and the kayak up some.
I was set up 15 yards from the decoys
because I need to see the ducks and I
hate long retrieves.



















The ugly blind that I built from pvc
conduit pipe and old camo netting
stood tall and odd shaped behind me,
but the sun was to my back and I was
at least in deep shadow.
























An airboat went behind me some
distance.  It must have flushed a flock
of ducks.  They came from my right shoulder
and looked huge.  I thought it was the
biggest group of mottled ducks (illegal
to shoot for early teal).  They wheeled
around and came right back to the
spinning wing duck.  I had a quick debate
and decided they were teal.  I missed
with the first shot, but doubled with
the next two.

I then spent twenty minutes trudging through
the smartweed looking for the birds.  I
was certain they had both dropped hard and
weren't swimming off crippled. I located
one took it back to the boat, Texted a
quick photo of it to my son who was out
hunting in North Dakota to let him know
I was first on the board with a teal.

I sat for a long time without another bird
and decided to look again for my lost
duck.  I retrudged the smartweed and
happened to look up to see two teal
flying right over my head away from me.
(That's a way too common occurrence for
duck hunters.) But, I found my lost bird
and went back to the boat happy.

I saw another group several hundred
yards to my right get flushed and fly
around, but not near me.  Some time
later, another group of 8 or so came
from the left straight into the decoys.

I had too much time to think and didn't
hit but one duck.  I marked it much better
and went right to it.  The bird helped by
being belly up.
























By then, the tour airboats were running
and had scared everything else away.  I
waited for the Ten O'clock Duck (tm),
but no luck.  I packed up and started the
paddle back to the ramp.

I chose a different path back and headed
straight for the main channel of the St.
Johns River. At the edge, I had to get out
of the boat and pull it across a sandbar:
one step too far unfortunately.  I stepped
of the edge and topped off my hip waders.

I was a little soggy on the paddle back, but
a very happy hunter.

North Dakota boy really had a good day.  He
got two wood ducks and a green wing to
tie for most while beating me on biggest and
only.  He went out the next day and got a
hen mallard and three spoonies.  

ofs

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fowl Trouble

Taking the new, slow ride out for a
spin.



The new boat is the Fowl Trouble.
SheWhoMustBeObeyed put the
kibosh on Fowl Mood or Fowl
Temper

I got 3.5 miles up the St. Johns
River, before paddling into the
wind and current got too much.
I also spent a lot of time dodging
tons of air boats and air barges.
The boat handled all the wakes
admirably. 

ofs