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Bud Helms
December 25, 2000, 10:51 AM
My first hunt was in Florida, 35 years ago, with a break open Stevens single shot .22 rifle. Florida grey squirrels.

The man that took me hunting that day was my only paternal uncle, J.D. Helms. He passed away two days ago and his sons and I buried him yesterday. He was 88 years old. And just as cocky as that day he took me hunting. Always had a smirk on his face. Funny. Ready to laugh. So many funny stories. All told seriously, listeners rolling on the floor. His eyes wide in disbelief that you were showing disbelief.

Uncle J.D. was my father's only brother. Dad subsequently took me hunting many times, but he was a 30 year military man and just wasn't there when the time was right for my first hunt. We made up for it later. Like nowadays. He is 76. We're buddies.

Uncle J.D. was a wild driver. He only recently moved to North Carolina from Florida to live with his daughter and got licensed to drive there. Second try. Scared the bejesus out of the examiner the first time. Uncle J.D. has put vehicles in the water (fresh and salt), rolled 'em, jumped 'em, flipped 'em, you name it. He was a menace on the road. He once went around a curve on a sandy Florida country road and rolled six times out into Mr Levy Hardy's tung oil tree grove and took out four young tung oil trees, got out and rocked the car back up on it's feet and jumped in and took off! He never got a scratch. I always thought he'd go out in a curve on a bridge, airborne. No such glory. Died in his sleep. With a smirk. Cousin Joyce (daughter), put his driver's licence in the coffin with him. We are all agreed, that's what he was smiling about.

But Uncle J.D. was a different person around firearms. Safety, safety, safety ... His son, my cousin Jimmy, was on that first hunt, too. But it wasn't his first hunt. Jimmy was an important part of that first hunt. I watched him the whole time. He drove like his Dad. But he handled his rifle like him too. He was two years older than me and I wanted to be just like him. Muzzle down, gun safe. Those old rifles were easy to keep safe. You just didn't load 'em til you were ready to shoot. I still love single shots to this day and still hunt with 'em.

Well, Uncle J.D. was one of the original members of the Statesmen Gospel Quartet, with my father. He had a few arrangements in the Baptist Hymnal over the years. Notably, Amazing Grace, ... few others. He got a few corn meal recipes published. He and my father grew up in Florida when the major industries were fishing and lumber (and leaving home for the military ... :)).

He's up there now ... doing 65 in a 35 with the window down, singing some old gospel tune at the top of his lungs ... whispering to me, "Keep that muzzle down, son ... there you go."

Rest in Peace, Uncle J.D. Thanks for the hunt. Thanks for living. Merry Christmas. Wish the Old Man Upstairs a Happy Birthday in person for me.



[Edited by sensop on 12-25-2000 at 04:26 PM]

griz
December 25, 2000, 11:50 AM
Glad to hear you have good memories of him. Reminds me of my uncle Gene who would level the camper by putting his skillet on the stove so the eggs would be even, his son Roy who nailed himself into a tree while building a tree stand, and my Dad who still believes a deer is within range if he can see it. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

BadMedicine
December 25, 2000, 04:06 PM
You know a life was good and meaningfull when you can look back on good times and smile. Not dwell on the death of a loved one, but think back on great times shared in the woods, and other places. Thanks for sharing your story sensop, I hope you and your family have a great christmas season.

Art Eatman
December 26, 2000, 12:44 AM
God invented uncles in order to have somebody teach the younguns how to drive, shoot and hunt. Grandfathers, also, but the uncles are just that little bit younger, with a touch more of the "wild"...

Memories are what make folks immortal. You've got some good memories, and that old man will be forever young.

Art

Dave McC
December 26, 2000, 08:31 AM
I wonder if Pop is riding with your uncle, singing that same song, and with a couple great shorthairs in back,headed for some good cover loaded with ringnecks and quail.Sounds like thye'd get along just fine...

I'll say a prayer for y'all tonight....