Dad and Mom
Embracing the Ones You Love
article by Dan Chason
2014 was a rough year for me. With the demands of work, kids, grandkids and of course, my hobbies, it was a run and gun year. All of that was compounded in April when my Dad, Rev. R.L. Chason unexpectedly passed away. My Mom, Mozelle, his wife of 57 years just could not get over his passing. She suddenly died in August. I lost both of my parents within 120 days of each other. With their passing went many desires to do anything. I have been an outdoor writer for over 25 years and that inspiration left, as well, for quite some time. I think it had something to do with my Mom calling to tell me she had read my latest article and how she would go on and on about how proud she was to read it. Either way, it has been a struggle to find the motivation to be expressive. If you will pardon me this month, I will give you some insight into the two people who molded me into who I am today.
I developed my love of the outdoors solely due to the time I spent hunting and fishing with my Dad. He was a fixture in my life and I never for one second figured he would pass away so suddenly. He never had any major health problems and had passed his latest physical with flying colors. I always figured that Mom would go first as she battled various afflictions for as long as I could remember. My Dad was a minister and was called to preach at the young age of 16. He was a gentle giant with a quite approach and mannerism. The only time I ever heard him raise his voice was when he preached. But when he gave us any direction or orders, I assure you that his children responded. We respected him with a respect that is earned, not demanded. I can remember many a day when my Dad would drive into our driveway, peel off his suit coat, hang it on the door of the car and grab a basketball to shoot some hoops. He taught me to love God, respect others, respect myself and to respect the animals that we pursued when hunting. He brought this truth home to me at the young age of 13. I loved to bird hunt with my pellet rifle I had bought from hours of cutting lawns. I remember one hunt when I grabbed my Dad’s hunting vest and went after cedar waxwings. I snuck up on this huge cedar tree and laid on the ground. Shot after shot, I dropped birds and placed them in that vest. I counted 14 when I was done. I could not have been more proud. I rode my bicycle home as I could not wait to show my Daddy. He walked out and watched as I unloaded bird after bird. I can still smell the fried chicken Mama was cooking. “That’s pretty good, son,” said my Dad. “I just wonder how them are gonna taste.” Those were the last cedar waxwings I ever shot as my Dad made me clean, cook and eat every one of them while the rest of the family had Mama’s fried chicken. “The Bible says only a lazy man won’t clean what he kills. We don’t kill animals just for fun. If you kill it, you eat it.” Lesson learned, Dad.
He loved to squirrel hunt. I learned the hard way that if you didn’t walk softly, you would find yourself hunting alone. Dad loved to stalk squirrels but my big feet and inattentiveness to being quiet was always my downfall. It was the same with fishing. Dad rarely talked when he fished. He would concentrate so hard you could almost feel it. And if you bumped the boat or made any noise, you would get the “look” that told you not to do that anymore. To this day, I am the same way. You make noise in my boat and you got to go.
My Mom rarely did anything outside of the home. She was a published writer and the very person who taught me the love of expressing yourself in writing. She praised my attempts at poetry or short stories even if my final product wasn’t that inspiring. I remember as a child, Mom decided to volunteer as a teacher’s aide at my school….without telling me. Imagine my surprise when I walked into class to find my Mother sitting up front. Then it got worse. The teacher became ill and my Mom inherited the class as my English teacher for the rest of the semester. It just so happened that this was my fourth grade year and Spelling was a huge focus. I remember sitting at the dining room table and attempting to complete my Spelling homework. Mom stood behind me with a fly swatter and if I spelled something wrong, I became the fly. It didn’t take but two weeks and my “C” in Spelling became an “A+.” I guess hard heads need reinforcement.
Most people who come to my camp or spend any length of time around me know that I enjoy cooking. My wife says I enjoy it too much, cook too much in quantity and cook everything you should not eat. What is not known that I learned to cook from my Dad. Dad always said, “Now son, when you get grown and married, your wife isn’t always gonna want to cook”. He was right. I am world renowned for my tomato red eye gravy but I will have to give the honors to my Dad. It is his recipe.
I never realized, when they were alive, just how integral a part that parents play in your life. My parents only recently relocated to Monroe in December of 2013 after being at least 4 hours away for most of my adult life. I spoke to them often. Dad was always asking about fishing or hunting and Mom always asked about kids and work. That is one thing that I miss the most. That phone call from Mom on my birthday or that call from Dad just to check on me. Dad was funny on the phone. When he was done talking he never said goodbye. He just hung up. It aggravated me for many years but became a topic to pick at him about as he got older. Dad loved practical jokes and I remember his hearty laugh and the way he always looked at the glass as half full. I rarely saw him when he wasn’t happy and my Mom was the reason. When the two of them were together, it was magic. They truly loved each other.
One story they shared was when we lived in Meridian, Mississippi. Dad had found a boat that he wanted to buy for the large sum of $300. The bank would not loan the money without Mom’s signature. Dad’s salary at the time was a whopping $75/week as a full time minister with three children. Mom refused to sign the note. She paid the bills and just could not see the need to buy a boat, even though Dad insisted. Mom said that night, she would almost go to sleep and Dad would poke her in the side and she would wake up. “You gonna sign it?” Again, she would refuse, roll over and get poked once more. This went on most of the night until Mom said she got up at 4:00 a.m. and signed the papers so she could sleep. That was typical Dad.
But the one thing that Bob Chason was most noted for was his lack of mechanical ability. I remember one time Dad has fixed our trailer hitch. He had rigged only one chain for a safety chain. Halfway to the lake, our “fixed” hitch came off and our boat started passing us on the road. Dad slammed on the brakes, the one chain grabbed and the boat peeled our old Ford from the rear quarter panel to the front door. Then Dad decided he wanted a big river anchor. This boat was wooden and old. Dad had a welder take a 6 inch pipe and put spikes all around it so it would hold in the river current below the spillway. Day one was an eye opener and a wave hit the front of the boat as we motored up river and slammed the spikes through the boat. It is a miracle we all didn’t drown. But Dad “fixed” it again with Bondo and the next day we tried to go again. I say try, as the Bondo didn’t hold and again, we had to use fingers and toes to cover holes are we raced for the bank.
So, many of my outdoor memories come from the times I spent afield with my Dad. I owe my knowledge, love and passion for the outdoors to him. But Mom was always there with an understanding ear and compassionate heart to let us go spend that quality time with him. I will miss them both greatly and encourage all of you to embrace the ones you love….while you still have them.