Mr. Simply's hunting clothes are mostly in the back of the truck now, ready to go to Goodwill tomorrow morning. Looking at his side of the closet, standing almost half empty now, makes me sad.
The boots were the most difficult to let go of for some reason -- his Herman Survivors, the work boots he loved, and his hunting boots. There was something especially touching about the hunting boots, still caked with last year's dirt and smelling faintly of doe lure. They brought back memories of lying in bed in the dark at 4:30 of a Saturday morning as he dressed in the light from the closet, trying not to disturb me. His camo, his boots, his suspenders. . . and then he would tell me goodbye, and I would always tell him to Stay safe, have fun, don't forget to call me, tell everybody I said Hi and he'd be off to meet the guys for breakfast at the Waffle House in Newnan. So many seasons, so many mornings like that.
He used to say that an hour in his tree stand was worth three in therapy.
By July his bucket list had shrunk to two things: one last trip to visit with family, one last hunting season. Why all his stuff was still here, why he didn't give it away with his fishing gear and his climbing stand last summer.
When it became apparent he wouldn't live even that long, he began to hope for just one last opening day. The guys spent all summer building a special stand for him where he could sit, under cover and wouldn't have to climb, and Chris C. was set to take him, to stay with him for a morning. But by the time opening day rolled around he was too sick, half out of his mind, weak, incontinent, his bones too fragile to go anywhere, never mind into the woods. In two weeks he would be dead.
I had to take a photo of the boots, like I did my hikers, before I was finally able to let them go. I hope they'll make some other guy as happy as they made Mr. Simply, and that they'll bring him luck too.