Sunday, May 22, 2016

A long walk down memory lane

© Othmar Vohringer

On May the 9th my world was turned upside down. The short message I received from Brazil, where my brother lived with his family for over 25 years read; “Your twin brother Gabriel passed away this morning”. I had to read it twice and then again to realize what I had just read. Then it hit me with full force, the person, with whom in spirit I just celebrated our birthday three days ago, is no longer with me. Having had to deal with a few deaths in our family, including my parents, I felt that this was much harder to deal with. Was it because Gabriel is my twin brother and as such we share a closer spiritual bond or was it the fact that we just celebrated our birthday? I don’t know. I just knew I had to deal with it and get the emotional turmoil under control again.

There are many different ways for people to deal with loss. My way is to take a long walk down memory lane and remember shared experiences. The things that stand out the most are outdoor activities- like my first fishing trip with my brothers. Gabriel, my younger brother Roland and I went off on a four kilometer hike at the age of seven to fish on a lake that over the years would become our favourite hangout place during the hot summer months. Back then children were not so much fretted over and pampered as they are today, so it was common for children to undertake their own adventures without constant parental supervision and there were no cell phones back then. Parents trusted their children that they would use what they learned and knew what consequences it would have if they don’t.

There are many memories like this because our parents, despite long working hours, always made sure to spend as much time with us as possible, even if that meant they had no time to themselves . Another such early memory that flooded in my mind was the day my father taught us how to swim at age five or six. My twin brother took to water like the proverbial duck. I on the other hand was not too keen on it but eventually with lots of coaxing I learned to swim. A certain dislike for the water is still with me to this day, although I am a good swimmer. I take my “sweet time” to get wet, much to the enjoyment of my wife, who also takes to water like a duck. The way I look at it water is for fish and as long I can sit in a dry boat and catch them I am as happy as can be to be on the water rather than in it. Besides fishing, swimming, skating and skiing, my parents taught us about nature and how things in nature work together. With that kind of upbringing it was no surprise that we would turn into outdoor enthusiasts.

Another fun memory that readily resurfaces in my mind was the annual friendly competition my twin brother and I had each fall. It usually started with the delivery of the firewood for the winter and which of us two had split more wood at the end of the day. My father used to fuel that competition and it took me a while to realize why…it meant less work for him. Gabriel also had a great sense of humour too and could bring laughter to the dullest place within minutes. He knew how to cheer you up and for him the glass was never half empty, it always was half full; every dark side had a lighter side, not the other way around. One day on a school outing I fell out of a tree. I ended up with a broken arm and collarbone. While the teacher ran off to the nearby schoolyard to get her car to drive me to the hospital my brother and the other kids stayed with me. Gabriel was not like the others making long faces. No, for him it was all about making jokes and fun of the way I tumbled out of the tree and that in turn cheered me up too. I assume my thinking back then was: if my twin brother is not upset and worried, why should I be?

Walking down memory lane has brought many wonderful events back to my mind that I was able to share with my parents and brothers. I am eternally grateful to have had a brother like Gabriel to share our joint love and appreciation for all things nature offered. To this day sharing wonderful outdoor experiences with family and friends remains a vital part of what hunting and fishing is all about.

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