This time of year was my Dad’s favorite.  He used to count down the weeks and days leading up to the third weekend in October, which was the weekend he would always take me and my younger brother to The Great Smoky Mountains (probably his favorite spot on Earth). That weekend was peak “leaf turning season” when the trees would be ablaze with all the colors of autumn.  Bright vibrant reds, yellows, oranges, and purples competed for space on the branches.  The whole park was like God’s canvas. Each year, he would sign us out of school for either a Friday or a Monday and we’d go enjoy that beauty for three days, just the three of us, our own private “Boy’s Club”.  Dad was a pretty solitary man, a trait I inherited something fierce, and he didn’t need a lot of social company to have a good time. He would just turn us loose on the town of Gatlinburg during those vacations and enjoy a few peaceful days on his own.  For me and my bro, it was like heaven because we felt so free.  I think both of us ended up so close to Pop because of that gratitude and respect we had for the way he treated us as equals, even when we were little kids. I never felt like he treated me like a kid.  From my vantage point, he treated me and my bro with the same respect he treated his closest friends and buddies.  And I think we’ve always held that within us, at least, speaking for myself, I’ve tried to. 


The 25th of this month (October 2004) would have been Pop’s 84th birthday. He got cheated. I know deep down there is some kind of reason for everything. That kind of faith brings me peace, and I’m sure it boils down to the simplicity of my Dad being needed to prepare the way for his family. None of us are getting younger, life takes you naturally, or unnaturally like it did Pop. I try to think about that mortality often.  I try to be thankful for what I have, and what my Creator sees fit to give me. I just think Dad should have gotten a little bit more, that’s all. He should have gotten to enjoy what he had earned for some peaceful years before saying goodbye.  As it stands, he never got to say goodbye, and that is what still hurts three years down the road.


The leaves are turning. They are starting to fall. It's getting colder every day.  It will be winter soon.  It all seems like a metaphor, for what I don’t know…


God bless you everybody.


In Memory of Raymond Henry Montavon
October 25, 1920 - July 7, 2001