The weekend before Thanksgiving has always been reserved for deer hunting. My dad would go up to my grandparents' house, kickback, relax, and hunt. Long before any sane person would even consider leaving the depths of their plush, warm bed, Dad and Boppy would be donning their layers and blaze orange to head into the woods.
They always hoped for a nice layer of fresh snow as they hunted the same land year after year. The tree line and a corn field belonged to our goodfriends Herb and Arnie, two brothers in their 80s who lived independently in neighboring homes.
Sometime after the sun came up, our two men would trudge into Herb's kitchen where the fridge was full of Miller. Not because Herb drank beer but because Dad and Boppy drank beer. Arnie would come over and the four would sit around solving the world's problems.
As everyone grew older, hunting became harder and harder. The time in the woods was shorter and the time in Herb's kitchen longer. "Deer hunting" became a pretense for a good time with old friends. It has been years since we've had any venison.
The day I started college I got a phone call saying Arnie passed away. This was eight months after the contemplation of terminating life support, the planning of the funeral, and the Christmas Miracle. That year Dad and Boppy BYOB-ed it to Herb's room at the nursing home.
Herb passed away on New Year's Eve that same year. The only time I've ever been to the gravesite was when we almost froze to death in the sub-zero temperatures and wild winds ripping off the surrounding barren fields.
Even though the will brouhaha had not yet been settled, Dad and Boppy hunted Herb and Arnie's land that year. But it was too hard. Instead, they took a drive to the cemetery in the middle of nowhere. The one that only has two remaining plots, graciously given to my grandparents to use sometime in the distant future.
With the headstones protecting them from the wind, two grown men wearing blaze orange sat on a nice layer of snow to have a beer with the boys.