I have a 12 point buck on the wall and a 10 pound bass on my gun safe. A turkey fan from the hunt when my friend Ronnie called a tom from across a long pasture to nearly in my lap.
A pair of teal and a drake pintail to remind me of hunts with my son when he was a young boy. A ringneck duck from the time Ronnie risked life and limb to break ice in a small boat with a tree branch for a paddle to retrieve it on a single-digit temperature day. A pheasant from the Texas panhandle to remind me of hunting those raucous birds with my dad in Iowa when I was a lad.
A DD214 and a smattering of ribbons once worn on my dress blues. A college diploma, and a photo of me with several other TU volunteers taken on the senate platform at in Austin when we advocated for the Guadalupe River.
Another framed photo on my desk of me two friends burdened with backpacks just below the continental divide; one of whom no longer walks this earth.
A wedding ring and a good wife.
Emails, cards, or texts from my (now) adult children thanking me for things I did for them in their youth that they may not have appreciated at the time. Some I have forgotten, but they haven’t.
All these trophies surround me. Each tells a story when I gaze on them, each a talisman that transports my mind to other times and places. I treasure them, not because of the frames, fur or feathers, but because of the people and experiences they conjure.
Relationships are the true trophies.
They hang not on the walls of my office, but are tethered to my soul by unbreakable cords.