Column: Coincidence brings peace in holiday season

Published 4:25 pm Saturday, December 3, 2022

Late fall is a hard time of year. Grass enters its hibernation stages and appears brown and lifeless. Leaves are starting to fall. At times the weather is cold, wet and dreary. It is perfect weather to read a book, watch football inside or hunt, but that is about all it is good for. 

Thanksgiving can also be a reminder to those who have lost loved ones over the years:  their cheerful face, joke filled stories and wisdom is missed from the dinner table conversations. Christmas will be here before you know it and again it can be a challenge. 

Daylight is shorter and the days move quickly while nights seem to last forever. It is in the field or woods where I truly struggle to grasp time. Sometimes an hour flies by and other times minutes seem to drag on. 

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Saturday my half awake legs carried me into the hayfield to a corner I seldom visit or hunt. Rain was in the forecast and I hoped to slip into some thick cover provided by young saplings. Their canopy had thankfully shaded out some of the thorny plants which have overtaken the field in other sections. 

I took a seat on a stool as the song birds sang and fluttered about. My eyes looked intently out at the travel corridors in front of me, anxiously looking for brown blobs of deer as they would move through the field but none did. 

Gusts of wind occasionally knocked the morning dew off of tree branches. Looking down at my dad’s Ruger M77 chambered in .270, I started to wipe away water droplets from the stock. I paused as I traced what appeared to be an inscription of “Paul W.” 

My body went numb as I weighed out the possibility of thorns scratching the stock the perfect amount to read something or perhaps I was going crazy. I messaged my dad asking him if he saw it too, he did. 

Ten years ago, my great uncle Paul Wallace of Bogue Chitto, became very ill around Thanksgiving. For about a month, I prayed and prayed for a medical miracle which never came. By January 10, 2013, he had died. He was 55, loved fishing, hunting and golf and worked as a principal on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

Here I was sitting on a cool Saturday morning with tears in my eyes as I thought about him. A cardinal flew by me as I dried my eyes. 

Physically, I know he is dead but spiritually I believe he is alive in Christ. One day I will see him again but until then, there are moments where it is like he is there with me. 

Saturday afternoon I slipped into the woods as sheets of rain fell. No animals moved in the rain with the exception of a crow or two. Everything was soaked and the rifle’s stock no longer had the Paul W I had seen, or at least it didn’t look the same as it had. 

Perhaps it was a coincidence but I choose to believe it was something more than that. I had forgotten it was time for Vancleave to host its annual Paul Wallace Classic basketball tournament this week.

Perhaps it is a reminder to keep living and be more like Christ as he would have done. He was one of a few of my “uncles” who have died over the years; each of them I loved dearly and will miss. Fortunately, this time of year is starting to get easier and I hope you can find a similar peace over the holidays.

Hunter Cloud covers sports for The Natchez Democrat. Contact him at hunter.cloud@dailyleader.com