I was twelve years old the first time I was exposed to the word Survivalist. It took a while to get it in my head on what it actually meant, but after I fully understood it I knew I had to be one.
My dad had an old friend that came by every now and then and sometimes while they sat and talked I would ease-drop in their conversation.
The old man would sit and tell stories and talk of his dreams about being a mountain man and surviving in the wilds. He would tell my dad about all the preparing he has done to achieve his life long goal. He described the plan right down to the smallest detail, the log house he was going to build, the food he was going to grow and he even set a date on when all this was going to take place.
I would sit at the end of the porch, captured by his every word and listen to the thin, grey haired old man as he talked about a day when he was going to live free among the wilds of the mountains. It did not take long for me to start asking questions and trying to learn as much as I could. After he would leave, I would always looked forward to his return.
Finally, the day the old man spent so many years preparing for came. I wondered if he was going to come and say goodby or not like he said he would. When I saw his little red truck pull into the driveway loaded down with supplies and bags I was thrilled. When he got out he told me that he had brought me something special. Reaching in the back of his truck he presented me with a cage and his pet Ferrets. He told me to look after his pets while he was away and to take good care of them. He would be back to get them in the fall.
I did not want to look after his animals, I wanted to go with him. All the talking he and my dad had done about surviving in the wilderness, starting a homestead, living off the land and living free only built a fire in me to do the same. I had even packed a bag on the hopes my dad would let me go with him for a while. Remember, I was around twelve years old at the time and Grizzly Adams was still on TV. All I could think about was having a pet bear and living in the mountains.
I cannot remember the old mans name. All I remember is how he lit up every time he talked about his dream and the smile from ear-to-ear across on his face while he waved goodby as he drove away to capture that dream.
I never saw him again after that day. I would often think about him and his wild adventures while I fed his pets a year or so later. I want to believe he parked his truck off some old mountain dirt road, grabbed his bags out of the back and wondered off into his dream.
May God be with you wherever you are Mr. Survivalist