A short story

A short story

Over the years Tom Panette has been known as a recluse and a mountain man by the people that know him. It has been said that he left the civilized world and moved to the mountains because he was unable to adapt to modern living. In reality, as a child, he dreamed of living the lifestyle of a trapper and mountaineer and those dreams later evolved into a passion and a calling that eventually overcame his need for society. With only a sixth-grade education, Tom has always been a very intelligent, resourceful, and capable person. As tough as they come with a drive and work ethic matched by none. These are traits that only successful trappers possess.

He moved to the mountains some 53 years ago and never looked back. He built a modest little cabin that has provided him shelter for all of those years and will likely stand for many years after he is gone. Although Tom has several cabins across his various trap lines, this one is and has always been home to him. The other cabins were built out of necessity and only provide him a brief uncomfortable stay as he is passing through the area checking his traps. This cabin is his home base and is the place where he keeps the items that mean the most to him. Now in his late 70's, Tom rarely visits the other cabins and has since collected up the valuables and shut down the trap lines that have fed and clothed him so well over the years. Mother nature will now reclaim her land and his cabins and trails will be swallowed up in history. His time is now spent entirely at his main cabin in Timber Valley.

The many years of hard work, and the lifestyle in general, have finally begun to take a toll on Tom's health.  He has slowed considerably and his once powerful body has become frail and weak making it impossible to continue the life that he knows and loves.  As the darkness fades into morning the sun finally peeks slowly over the ridge tops.  It splashes across the meadow and flows through the window illuminating the darkness inside the cabin.  Tom wakes and wipes the sleep from his eyes.  He sits up in his bed and pulls the blankets back to the side and then nestles his feet into his old dusty slippers. he groans quietly as he rises shakily to his feet.
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His shallow breathing makes it hard to move even short distances.  He shuffles his feet slowly as he makes his way toward the foot of the bed where he flops down to rest on the way to his treasured hand-made spruce rocking chair.  He sighs in disgust that he is unable to make such a short journey without resting but is determined to make it no matter the difficulty. 

The old man sat briefly then stood again and carefully walked the final few steps to his destination.  He turned and leaned forward reaching back to grasp the arms of his chair then lowered himself into the seat.  With a sigh of relief, Tom was finally in the place where he had spent so many hours reading and gazing out the window at the life he created. 

Tom sat comfortably in total silence staring out the window. His long gray beard began to quiver as emotion covered his face. He leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath and quietly cleared his throat. "Lord," he said in a soft voice, "I have asked you for many things over the years and you have always come through for me.  53 years ago I asked for your help in fulfilling a dream.  Graciously I sit here looking back at all the things that that you have provided for me and I am overwhelmed with what I have been able to accomplish because of it.  I have never taken a single moment for granted, I have never taken more than I needed, and I have always left things better than I found them. My life has been full and purposeful and I have seen and experienced things that most people will only dream of.
 
Today I am not asking you for help. Today I am not asking you for more time.  Today I am not even asking for relief from the pain.  Today Lord, I am here only to thank you for the wonderful life that you have so generously given to me".   Tom sat back in his chair and with tears streaming down his face, he began to rock slowly back and forth.  The only sound to be heard is the familiar gentle creaking of his beloved rocking chair with each pass.  A comforting sound that Tom has heard for many years and has grown to love.  Staring out his window on this significant summer morning, Tom sat with the sun on his shoulders and a smile on his face as the chair goes silent for the last time.


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