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Shared with Permission

Nancy Says: "This was a letter written for my dear friend and fellow author, Joan Deneve, shortly after the loss of her mother. She shared how deeply it moved her, and after reading it to Mr. K, he said I should share it. I asked Joan her thoughts, and she encouraged me to share it in the hopes it can bring healing to others after loss of a parent or loved one. I have left it as "raw and uncut" as possible below.

Deer Album Cover

    One of the things that I love so much about driving, and road trips, is the freedom my brain has to look in the dark corners. Like when we were driving back from Pensacola together and I saw that overgrown culvert beside a tree line well back from the road and told you that would be a good place to hide a body. You know, like that, hehe. When I shared with my coworker we’d driven to Alabama and back over the weekend, she said she knew that drive because she used to make it to Atlanta in her college days and that the interstate from Mobile to Montgomery was the best and I was all like, I know, RIGHT!?! (It really is) 

    Then she said how nice it was to have Ben with me to share the driving and I started laughing and told her, Oh no, I did all of it. So you can imagine how terrible a driver my husband must be for me to do all of it rather than be a passenger when he is driving. Bless. His. Heart. <3 But truly part of it was because I do my very best thinking when I’m fishing, and if I can’t be fishing, then I do my next best thinking (and not thinking) when I’m driving on open road. Because I only have 1 job in that moment, and that is to keep it between the lines. 

    On the way there Saturday we had made excellent time and hit Mobile around 11 pm or so. I’d spent a big chunk of the drive thinking about Suze, and you, and about my story in my head and bringing it to life this coming weekend. And we were not too far north of Mobile when I saw the first deer on the opposite side of the interstate. She was so beautiful, standing regal and proud as if she were contemplating when best to cross. And I prayed for her. For safety for her and cars and trucks that would make her opening. And I started thinking about daddy.

    My daddy loved deer. Loved them. Studying them, art with them, pictures of them, and hunting them. We used to get so bored when we were kids because whenever we went to the state park, we wanted to play on the playground and grill hotdogs and have fun (and yes, we did those things, because just like Shane said, if your mom and dad are poor but do it the right way, you don’t know you’re poor). But daddy always wanted to look at the deer. And we would drive around in the truck about 10 miles an hour on the state park road and on trips to and from Corpus to visit Mom’s family if there were deer, Dad would always drive past them and slow down and pull off to watch them. 

    Sometimes it made mom mad and she would sit there with her tight lipped disapproving expression but Daddy didn’t care, he was studying the deer. So I learned to love deer too, like my daddy, and the verse “as the deer panteth for the water, so my soul longeth for You”. I actually have a memory of carrying 5 gallon jugs of water across a field in woods to bring water to “the deer” in my daddy’s hunting grounds when I was about ten years old. That’s how much my daddy loved deer. And this was all in my heart as I kept rolling up to Montgomery. Eric was finally asleep in the backseat and Benny had been asleep for a while. 

    And there was another deer. And that one was feeding and I just caught it in the edge of my headlights as we past and I was like “Oh, two deer!” in my heart and I felt so close to my daddy. And then there was a third deer, and it must have been closer to midnight by now (I was doing a hundred, LOL, but that stretch of interstate was made for it) and I was amusing myself because I was counting the deer and trying to make sure my count was good, I don’t know why until I spotted the fourth deer. Four deer!

    But it was the fifth deer that did it. Whether it was that “white line fever” dad used to call highway hypnosis, which is a real thing, or that I’d been driving for ten hours straight, but when I saw the fifth deer, in my mind this is what happened.

    A fifth deer! I have to tell Daddy I saw five deer.




    It had been a long time, maybe a few months even, since I’d “forgotten” that Daddy isn’t here anymore. And I remembered how many times after putting down my last horse, Silver Dollar (which was very traumatic on daddy, even more so than on me though he knew it was the right thing) that I would find myself driving somewhere on a Saturday and ask/think if she needs hay. Then remember she was gone. Almost a year later or more. You care for something and love it so long the muscle memory of your soul is that strong. 

    Does Dollar need hay?

    Be sure to tell Daddy about the deer you saw.

    So I told him. In the car from my heart with tears on my face I told him about the deer, and to look for Joannie’s mom and say hi for me. I told him how I was thankful that I knew to check my tires and my oil before we started and to not let the tank get too low before filling up again, especially at night, and that I missed him but was glad too he wasn’t here to see how America is going “to hell in a handbasket” as he would always say LOL

    Greatest generation indeed, sis. Greatest generation indeed.

    For when you forget and then remember Momma’s gone, and when you dream her and get to visit, know you are loved and your bestie understands.

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