This event happened more than half a century ago, but it’s one of those feel-good stories that stays with you always.
When I was a teenager, Bill Sanders took me and his son, Gayle, and two of our young friends on a Thanksgiving Day rabbit hunt in Mason County.
We were on the road before daybreak, and intended to hunt until early afternoon, when we would head home for a big dinner of turkey and all the trimmings with our families.
We covered the fields of a farm we had lined up permission to hunt on, and results were far less than desirable. We drove along back roads looking for another place to hunt.
We came to a farm that appeared to be sorely neglected. The fields were weed infested, and the barn, corncrib and silo were dilapidated.
I was nominated to go knock on the door and ask permission. No one came to the door to greet me, but a voice told me to come in.
I opened the door and stepped in. A voice from within said, “Back here.”
In the kitchen I found an elderly woman and man. He was in a hospital bed and she sat in a chair next to him. It was a cold and sunless day, and their only source of heat appeared to be a propane cook stove with the over door let down.
She introduced herself as Sarah and the man as John, her husband. He forced a smile, but did not speak.
On the kitchen table were a few slices of bread and an unopened can of spam.
She said she hadn’t gotten out to get anything for Thanksgiving dinner. Their ancient pickup had quit running, she said, before her husband’s cancer had taken a turn for the worse.
It was never clear to me how this couple fell through the cracks, with no apparent help coming from neighbors, the church or family members, if indeed there were any.
That was the end of our rabbit hunting trip. She told us of a country store about two miles away that stayed open for a few hours on Thanksgiving Day. She tried to get us to take a few dollars, but we didn’t need it.
We brought back a small oven-ready turkey, some yams, brown-and-serve rolls, cranberry sauce and a few other items.
With the oven door up, the temperature within it rose to 400 degrees. Sarah had crumbled up the slices of bread and mixed in sage and chopped onions and whatever else it takes to make dressing. She stuffed it in the bird and we slid it into the oven. We than helped her spread a table cover and spruce up the kitchen and the sink.
In less than two hours, the turkey was golden brown, looking like a photo right out of the pages of “Country Living.” As Sarah moved it to the table, we could see John’s eyes light up.
She begged us to stay, but we explained that we all had Thanksgiving dinner waiting at home.
“And where might that be?” she asked. “In Heaven? Yes, I’m sure that’s where angels eat.
“And you all are angels, of that we’re certain.”
John smiled and nodded his agreement.
We didn’t attempt to deny it.
One thing was certain: Even though our game bag was empty, we would all remember that as the best rabbit hunt we’d ever had the pleasure to be on.
One day an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
“My son,” he said, “the battle is between two wolves inside us all.
“One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
“The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
“Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Reach G. Sam Piatt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 606-932-3619