A courageous man of action, Uncle A.L. embodied the roles of provider and protector for his wife and family; that love extended to all of his girls, nieces included. We were blessed to have him in our lives and that he left us with many memories we all cherish.
When I was young, Uncle A.L. took my parents and me to his ranch to feed an alligator residing in one of the ponds. Lana and I climbed into the back of his pickup truck while the adults rode in the front. It was great fun feeling the wind blow our hair, gazing up into the big Texas sky, and having excitement grow at the prospect of seeing a real alligator up close.
That excitement ended abruptly as Uncle A.L. brought the truck to a halt, stepped out of it with his rifle, and began shooting at a jackrabbit to feed to said gator. As the shots fired and I saw the rabbit desperately trying to escape through the tall grass, I started crying and screaming, “Don’t kill the bunny!” over and over. I remember looking at my cousin Lana, so very calm in Lana-like fashion, and wishing I weren’t the only one crying.
While my parents were surely mortified by all the hysterics, Uncle A.L. immediately put the gun down, walked to the back of the truck, and hugged his sobbing niece, saying, “I’m not gonna kill the bunny and that old gator probably isn’t hungry anyhow.” As he dried my tears with his hands that day, he became my hero.
Of course, years later he teased me about it many times and told me the poor old alligator died of starvation.
Recently I asked Lana why she was so calm, to which she replied, “Sweetie, you were hysterical enough for both of us, and I knew Dad wouldn’t shoot Thumper with you around.” So true!