by Linda Davenport
My dad’s shotgun, his beloved Browning “Sweet Sixteen,” stands strangely quiet in the gun cabinet. I can feel Dad there when I walk by, feel his memories of cold mornings in the fields with his dogs and his friend Will, his pride and enjoyment when my brothers and I would shoot clays with him in the back yard, his love for hunting and us and my mother and that old gun. I feel his sadness, too, as his legs gave out and he couldn’t hunt anymore, and his renewed hope when an old Kubota lawn tractor freed him to hunt clay birds if not feathered ones and he showed us he could still outshoot us with one leg and bad eyes and perched on a tractor seat. I open the cabinet door, touch the stock, and the smell of his aftershave and coffee and Skoal flood my memory. My fingers instantly remember the feel of his neck and shoulders under my hands when he said, “Baby girl, can I talk you out of a neck rub?” For one sweet, fleeting instant I’m with my daddy and he is whole and well and alive and we are enjoying the afternoon together, with nothing more important to do than appreciate life and each other and a very fine old shotgun.
Linda Davenport is a freelance writer trying to break the chains of corporate bondage in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She grows fresh herbs, uses too much rosemary in everything, Tweets to excess, and blogs regularly here.