Jack "Captain Parker" Pastor
I want to tell you about a few hours I spent with Jack not too long ago. To understand the events of this particular day you must first understand our Captain. When he and Anna first moved to Lenoir, Jack set out to find a cowboy club where he could continue to enjoy the game he loved. In the late summer of 1999, Jack found a phone number for the newly formed Gunpowder Creek Regulators and for the next five years he made Mine Branch his home. Never wishing to be the top shooter, Jack worked hard to help build our club, he never missed a match and simply enjoyed shooting. It was his hobby, his pastime, his way of relaxing and meeting people. He knew the game better than most but never forced his opinions or experiences on anyone. For Jack, just being able to shoot was all he wanted or needed. He loved the feeling of a .45 Long Colt kicking in his hands. He had become one of the fastest I've seen with a double barrel, blazing away with that little 20 gauge coach gun of his. Thinking it was a sin to "down load" a cartridge, Jack also shot full loads in his .357's leaving many an RO thinking as he walked away to the unloading table, "I wonder if those rounds are hot enough for him?" If you've been around Parker for any length of time, you too have probably witnessed some of these things about him. Not long after the doctors told Jack that there was nothing more they could do for him, the Captain remarked about our range at Gunpowder Creek, "That's where I've been the happiest." These are probably some of the reasons Parker had Phillip bring him to the range that day. It was Saturday, February 7, 2004.
As they arrived on that Saturday afternoon, it was obvious that Jack's condition had worsened. Phillip helped as Jack labored to step from their vehicle, every movement appearing to be painful and exhausting. It seemed to take an eternity for us to walk the short distance over to the firing line where Phillip had carefully placed many of Jack's favorite cowboy guns on one of the loading tables. It was very cold, the wind was blowing and snow still blanketed the ground. This certainly was not a good day for a visit to the firing range and I wondered why Jack was so insistent on shooting. The Captain asked for a chair and we seated him next to the Jersey Lily. Phillip placed a few paper targets down range and Jack asked me to load his pistols, the .45's. When he was ready, I handed him one of the pistols and Jack fired five rounds, struggling to control the recoil. At first I thought, "This is really sad, he isn't even able to hit the targets any more," as his rounds flew far above the plywood holding the paper bull's eye. But then I handed him his second pistol and he quickly fired at several of the smaller, further away shotgun targets and to my surprise he hit them every time. After ten more rounds or so, fired over the targets and into the berm, I then realized what I was seeing. This was not about hitting a target. It was all about a man who loved the game we play. He loved the sound and the smoke and the feel of shooting his pistols. I think Jack knew his time was near and he desperately wanted to feel that .45 kick just one more time. He tried to shoot his favorite little lever gun, the '94, but he didn't have the strength in his hands to work the action and the weapon jammed. He sat there quietly for a few more minutes and then asked if we would help him into the clubhouse.
We each took an arm as Phillip and I helped Jack up the steps, into the clubhouse and over to his rocking chair, a gift from his good friend Mild Bill. We sat there talking for a while about ideas Ripshin and I had for the range and Jack offered his support for our plans. I asked is there was anything I could do to help him and he said no. I then asked, "Would you even tell me if there was something you needed?" and again he said, "No, I'm getting by." I explained to him how helpless we all felt and how much we wanted to help him in anyway we could. He smiled and said, "Okay, then help me to the truck."
I think that comment speaks volumes about how Jack faced his illness. Never wanting sympathy and not wanting to burden anyone, he simply faced his illness with a great deal of courage and accepted his fate.
I am so thankful that I was able to be there with him the last time he fired his cowboy guns. I wish I could have waved a magic wand and created a beautiful spring day for him but I don't think the snow and wind really bothered him because Jack was "at the range". As I look back at all the wonderful memories I have of Pahkah, I'm sure Anna remembers him saying many times over the past five years, "I'll be at the range." After all, that's where he was the happiest.
February 1, 1938 - July 7, 2004
Horsetrader, SASS 20213L, R