Finding a New Family at the Mountain Man Rendezvous.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

To download these free stories, please enter the newspaper publication you represent with your email address. We will email you when we add new stories each month. Thanks!

Note: We are committed to keeping your e-mail address confidential. We do not sell, rent, or lease our contact data or lists to third parties. Please see our privacy policy for details.

Please enter your organization and email above before downloading these articles.

Download PDF Word .doc Download Photo .jpg

Pass It On®

Finding a New Family at the Mountain Man Rendezvous.
How a Vietnam vet pulled himself out of drug addiction by going back in the past.

By The Foundation for a Better Life

At the edge of Yellowstone National Park is a broad swath of golden grass that every year becomes a scene from a lifestyle that ended over a hundred years ago. It happens at the end of summer: Buckskin-clad mountain men and women gather with goods to sell, spending the warm days on hand-carved stools telling stories. Under one canvas tent, you’ll find Grizz, a slightly built man with a gray mane and beard, hands thick and calloused from years of working tough leather into satchels and saddles. His blue eyes are set above cheekbones weathered by the sun and hold the secrets of a life ridden hard.

“I was in the Marines, in Vietnam,” he says. But that’s all he’ll give away about the war. “It’s not something anyone can relate to unless they were there, so I don’t talk about it,” he continues, protecting the brotherhood bound by common tragedy.

The leather around him has been worked and worked until it is supple, the hand-stitching perfect. There’s dye in the cracks on his fingers and palms. “I got married after the war,” he shares, “had a daughter.” But it didn’t go well. The daughter passed away — he won’t say how — and he started drinking hard and using drugs to close all the wounds that had never healed.

It didn’t work. His wife left, and he found himself a vagabond, the living dead cut off from society and slowly dying of survivor’s guilt. That’s when he stumbled on a Rendezvous in the Midwest. He found people who taught him a trade, gave him a new name, let him talk about anything but war and hurt. He started to feel at home.

The word rendezvous means a meeting place or a place of coming together. The Mountain Man Rendezvous is a kind of family gathering, and being in a family comes with its own kind of pain. A couple in the group that moved about the country had a premature baby, two-and-a-half pounds. “They named her Itty Bitty,” Grizz says. “She shouldn’t have lived a day.”

In the anguish of uncertainty, Grizz spent his time fashioning a tiny pair of moccasins and a little medicine bag for the babe. “It’s only a leather necklace,” Grizz says, “until you put something sacred inside it, something that reminds you of how your life is connected to something greater.”

That’s when the darkness poured out of Grizz’s soul. He was suddenly unburdened because his sorrow had someone else’s sorrow to attach to and fly away, like the early-morning swallows looking for a new home.

Grizz smiles. Something he has done a lot of in the past 30 years. Itty Bitty has children of her own now. Something he shares in but doesn’t talk about. But if you look closely, you can see the whole story in his transparent, blue eyes.

Second Chances... PassItOn.com®

Copyright ©2022 The Foundation for a Better Life. All rights reserved.

Pass It On®

The Foundation for a Better Life, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, gives your newspaper permission to publish these stories in print and electronic media (excluding audio and video), provided the stories are published in their entirety, without modification and including the copyright notice. For any modification, permission must first be obtained from the Foundation by emailing media-relations@passiton.com. Thank you.

  email

Your Comments
Here are some other inspiring newspaper articles you might like.
If You Love Dogs, You’ll Love this Story.

If You Love Dogs, You’ll Love this Story.
A German shepherd slept at his owner’s gravesite.

Taking Care.

Taking Care.
How one woman turned a life of neglect into a lifetime of taking care of people.

The Little Things that Make the Biggest Difference.

The Little Things that Make the Biggest Difference.
How one man created a forest the size of Central Park by planting one tree a day.

Bringing the Moon to your Living Room.

Bringing the Moon to your Living Room.
How 14-year-old Philo Farnsworth tinkered his way to the technology that broadcast the moon landing.

Taking Responsibility.

Taking Responsibility.
How one high school student supported her family during the pandemic.

Bigger than Life.

Bigger than Life.
How Premier League superstar Sadio Mané is changing the world beyond soccer.

Sometimes the Wrong Direction is the Right Way.

Sometimes the Wrong Direction is the Right Way.
How a wrong number, a wrong text and a mix-up led to long-lasting friendships.

Overcoming Our Own Worst Mistakes.

Overcoming Our Own Worst Mistakes.
Kaelin Clay made an unpardonable error in football. And he owned it.

Are You Smarter Than a Seventh-Grade Business Owner?

Are You Smarter Than a Seventh-Grade Business Owner?
How Kidpreneur Alejandro Buxton is making money for college and helping others.

Courage in a New World.

Courage in a New World.
The story of Stagecoach Mary, the first Black woman to deliver mail in the Wild West.

Everybody Can Be a Hero.

Everybody Can Be a Hero.
How window cleaners brightened the day at a children’s hospital.

Let the Kids Give it a Try

Let the Kids Give it a Try
How 17-year-old Dasia Taylor developed sutures that detect infection.

Stay Curious.

Stay Curious.
The remarkable underwater life of Jacques Cousteau.

The Future Belongs to Kids.

The Future Belongs to Kids.
So far, things look pretty bright.

Billy Mills

Billy Mills
The story behind America’s first and only 10,000-meter Olympic champion.

Never, Ever Give Up.

Never, Ever Give Up.
The incredible story of the 12-year-old cancer patient who brings joy to half a million children fighting cancer.

The Curse of Texting and Driving.

The Curse of Texting and Driving.
How one father turned personal tragedy into triumph for thousands of teenagers by creating the Honor Connor Scholarship Fund.

Everybody Gets on Base.

Everybody Gets on Base.
Measuring the victories of life, one single at a time.

Beatrice Shilling

Beatrice Shilling
The motorcycle daredevil who became a mechanical engineer and saved the lives of countless pilots in WWll.

Reach for the Stars…

Reach for the Stars…
No Matter How Long it Takes.

The Least Likely to Help.

The Least Likely to Help.
How a bedridden attorney still fights for the rights of others.

Taking Care of the Most Vulnerable.

Taking Care of the Most Vulnerable.
Pam Tully dedicates 6 months a year to rescuing baby flying foxes alongside the volunteers who help her.

Going Deep to Deliver Kindness.

Going Deep to Deliver Kindness.
Free-dive record holder Enzo Maiorca rescues a trapped dolphin, then watches as it gives birth.

Fix it Yourself.

Fix it Yourself.
How one couple moved hundreds of miles from home to run a center for pregnant teenage girls.

A Hero for Accessibility.

A Hero for Accessibility.
How an 8-year-old girl captured the attention of the nation and motivated Congress.

The Last Person you Think of Should Probably be the First.

The Last Person you Think of Should Probably be the First.
How a group of high school boys practiced the art of inclusion.

A Diamond in the Making.

A Diamond in the Making.
How an everyday superhero saved the day by taking time to go through the garbage to find a stranger’s wedding ring.

More Than Just Dancing

More Than Just Dancing
How inclusion helps overcome mental illness.

The Legacy of Dorothy Vaughan.

The Legacy of Dorothy Vaughan.
The Hidden Figure who Helped Put a man on the Moon.

The Art of Pitching.

The Art of Pitching.
A little confidence at the right time goes a long way.

Education is for Everyone.

Education is for Everyone.
Reading and writing are the basics of an education. See why a 90-year-old Kenyan great-grandmother went back to primary school.

A Lesson We Should Never Forget.

A Lesson We Should Never Forget.
The incredible story of American POWs smuggling rations to Russian prisoners at Stalag-B.

Turning Tough News Into Hope.

Turning Tough News Into Hope.
How 11-year-old Jordan Phillips raised $120,000 to help fund cancer treatment.

Beyond the Moon with an Eye on Mars.

Beyond the Moon with an Eye on Mars.
The story of a young woman who dreamed of pushing the boundaries and now designs launch systems for NASA.

For Soccer Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Every Day is Mother’s Day.

For Soccer Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Every Day is Mother’s Day.
Fortune and fame have allowed the soccer great to take care of his mother after all she has done for him.

Listening to the Music Inside.

Listening to the Music Inside.
The long journey of Maria Tallchief from the Osage Nation in Oklahoma to prima ballerina in New York City.

Recognizing the Need.

Recognizing the Need.
How a neighbor took a disaffected young man under his wing and taught him how to be a man

Including Everybody Means Everybody.

Including Everybody Means Everybody.
How Inclusion Films is making movies using crew with developmental disabilities.

You’re Never Too Old to Make a Difference.

You’re Never Too Old to Make a Difference.
British WWll veteran Captain Tom Moore raised over $45 million for charity at age 100.

Laughter is the Best Teacher.

Laughter is the Best Teacher.
How humor and history go together in this classroom.

For the Cost of a Box of Cereal.

For the Cost of a Box of Cereal.
How just noticing makes all the difference in the world.

No Matter Who You Are, You Can Always Help.

No Matter Who You Are, You Can Always Help.
The day Muhammad Ali rushed to save a stranger who was about to take his own life.

Our Local Heroes in Scrubs.

Our Local Heroes in Scrubs.
How health care workers saved the day.

How to Honor Your Mother.

How to Honor Your Mother.
Warrick Dunn played in the NFL for 12 seasons. His most impressive stat: He’s built 200 homes for single mothers. And he’s not done.

No Strings Attached.

No Strings Attached.
How a 7-year-old girl brings joy to neighbors with her violin.

The Brotherhood in Sports Goes Beyond the Field.

The Brotherhood in Sports Goes Beyond the Field.
How a men’s rugby team supported one of their own.

Something Healthy for All of Us

Something Healthy for All of Us
How 17-year-old Barron Prize Winners Annie and Shirley Zhu provide fresh food for 1,400 people a year.

Being a Mother…

Being a Mother…
The roundabout journey to a dream fulfilled.

Playtime is for Everybody.

Playtime is for Everybody.
A dad sells off his business and builds a theme park for disabled kids.

Cross Safely.

Cross Safely.
How one man made sure his retirement years were spent helping kids move safely through life.

Road Trip Across America.

Road Trip Across America.
A discovery of what unites us.

Give Peace a Chance.

Give Peace a Chance.
How a Mexican-American Marine negotiated peace speaking Japanese during WWll.

The History of Us.

The History of Us.
How a football coach develops young men by teaching them their own history.

Using the Write Words

Using the Write Words
How an African American Woman Wrote her Way to Freedom.

An Impossible Journey.

An Impossible Journey.
How John Wesley Powell navigated the Colorado River and Grand Canyon in wooden boats.

Born to Make a Difference.

Born to Make a Difference.
Kids who are changing their world.

The World Awaits You.

The World Awaits You.
The story of the first woman to circumnavigate the world.