An old friend is in dire straits, at that point in life where he doesn’t know where he is or recognize the people around him. Most of the time he just sleeps.
The last time I visited, his only smile came when I mentioned that us bird hunters had to stick together. Other than that he mostly stared ahead, his eyesight weak or non-existent. When he started a sentence it would be lost before finished. The tall lanky man that used to stride through the woods so easily had almost become unrecognizable.
He used to ask how the birds were, which always meant ruffed grouse, and then asked about the woodcock too. Talk would turn to weather, as it always does in New England, and then to guns and dogs, you know, the important things in life. Not that many years ago he would accompany me on hunts.
Now it is hard to tell what dreams play out while he sleeps. I like to think he’s reliving the good times, dreaming of friends and family and the German shorthairs that have been in his life. Which of his old Ithacas is he carrying? It’s number eights in his pocket, you can bet on that.
So I’ll stop to visit on my trip north, chat with his wife, talk about the good times, and remind ourselves what great memories he accumulated.