Okay, so there's a rule: what happens at B&A Ranch stays at B&A Ranch. And I'm not about to break that rule. But I do want to share something non-specific about a group of men.
The B is for Bryan, my cousin, and the A is for his wife Allison. At least that's what I've always assumed. Bryan has a ranch near Duster, Texas, which is near DeLeon, which is not too far from Stephenville. It's off the beaten path, to be sure.
Twice each year for the past probably 4 years now, many of the men and boys in the Adkison clan have gotten together at B&A Ranch, once in the spring and once in the fall. Generally speaking, we sit around a fire, we shoot guns, we eat food that men are supposed to eat. And we tell stories. Mostly I like to listen to the stories.
There are usually 3 of the men there from my dad's generation: my dad, and his twin younger brothers Harrel & Darrel. [Spare it, I'm sure they've heard every joke over the years.] These two uncles taught me at a very early age what the purpose of an uncle is: torment your nephews incessantly (Darrel, if you're reading this, that means over and over). It's still a part of their normal behavior. I took my friend Mike with me out there last year, and he accidentally threw one of his "kiddie" camp chairs in the truck instead of a larger one. My uncles got after him about his "big boy chair" that whole weekend.
They will be glad to know that I try to carry on that legacy with my own 3 nephews.
There's also usually several of my cousins. There's Bruce Lee (yep) whose dad, Robert E. Lee (yep) would have loved these weekends, but now Uncle R.E. is with the Lord. (Side note, Bruce tells a great story about trying to make a collect call from college back home). Bruce is one of those cousins that when I was a kid seemed a lot older than me, but now that I'm 45, we seem to be closer to the same age. Bruce's sons and son in law are usually there (I missed Nick this trip, who is usually in Alaska in the military). Of course there's Bryan, and sometimes his brother Micah (also in the military), and once my cousin Steven drove from New Mexico (he's border patrol). Bruce's brother Bobby also comes--he looks like G. Gordon Liddy, and he's a nurse. I'd hate to wake up in a hospital and have to see that face. (Just kidding, Bobby!)
My own two sons love going out there. They love getting pestered by these men. And since I missed this last one, I've been trying to figure out why. Why do I, so long tormented, have a broken spirit about missing the weekend? Why do my boys love to go and be harangued? (Darrel, that means bothered.) Why does my friend Mike want to go back even after all the big boy chair talk?
Yes, we have fun. Yes, we eat greasy food cooked over a fire. Yes, there's something great about shooting a gun. But there's more than that. I wish I knew the exact answer, but 2 words come to mind.
Wisdom. Every trip, we talk a little politics, we talk a little theology, we talk a lot of family. But these men, with all their experience, drip with wisdom. I think my dad may be the wisest person I've ever known. It's not about knowledge, although I'm sure there's plenty of that. But wisdom, experiential know-how. Street smart (although since they're all kinda country folk, maybe "trail-smart" is a better phrase). They have lived life. They have learned. And they share, usually (maybe mostly) when they're not trying to.
Love. For all their shenanigans (Darrel, that means doing stuff that bothers other people), there is genuine familial, brotherly love, the kind that you don't seem to see in public as much anymore. There's laughter. Sometimes tears. But there's the feeling that these men would do anything for each other.
And for me. Or my own boys.
Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friends, Jesus said.
I have no doubt that any of my uncles, cousins, dad, brother, or any of those friends who have been to B&A Ranch, no doubt that they would sacrifice for each other. They miss each other when the weekends are over, always lingering to leave.
I miss them.
I am proud to be an Adkison. And while the Adkison Boys' Weekend might not be the place for everybody, it's a great place for me.