And Then I Blinked

May 23, 2016 by

Eighteen years ago I was in an Alaskan stream fishing for silver salmon. Coho if you prefer the Native word.

I had just hooked a very nice fish, which was off and running when The Call came. I really wanted this fish. I could tell it was big by the way the line screamed off the fly rod.

I popped the line, letting the fish go and took The Call.

Within an hour or so, a doctor in a Hawaiian shirt placed his hand up against mine. “Large,” he said. A nurse put the gloves on me, and the doctor said, “put your hands here and here.”

A couple of minutes later I was holding a slimy baby, later to be called Caleb and the eldest of the SONS of Thunder.

While in Alaska, I got one of those baby backpack contraptions. I’d put him on my back, wade out in a stream and fly fish. I nearly lost my balance multiple times because every time I caught one, Eldest was bouncing around trying to see it before I even got it out of the water.

We loved hanging out in those streams. Except for that one time during a backcast the wind shifted and that fly slammed right into the back of his head. That was the loudest “ow-ee” I’ve ever heard.

Those were some of my favorite times, fly fishing with him on my back. There is no way I could ever carry him now. In fact, at some point in the future, he may well have to carry me.

He loved smoked salmon and rah-rahs, known as french fries in the English language, or Freedom Fries if you hate the French.

Soon, we were finding our favorite characters on television. Rollie Ollie and Tinky Winky, Mr. Tom Ham Hat, Thomas the Choo-Choo and others. He and I would get up early to see what was happening in the Big Blue House. Or we’d head over to Pooh Corner if things were getting slow on the Island of Sodor.

I cherished those times. Just the two of us with flying dragons and trains and learning the basic rules of life: wait your turn; be polite; don’t run with scissors or other sharp objects; share; laugh; tell the truth; don’t talk to strangers; safety first, don’t yell, and if you happen to have an accident in your pants, don’t be embarrassed, just tell an adult.

And then I blinked.

I remember thinking about bribing the instructor to fail Eldest during his driving test. Only recently have I been able to open my eyes with him behind the wheel.

And then I blinked again.

It’s last week. I have my arm around Eldest, who is in his Boy Scout uniform as the LBD takes a photo. It’s his 18th birthday and he just passed his Eagle Board of Review.

Where did the time go? I have more to teach, like:

Financially, live by the 80-10-10 rule. Give away 10 percent of your income to charity, save 10 percent, learn to live on 80 percent. Find what you are passionate about and make that your career. Keep your word. Your name is yours and yours alone, honor it.

Remember that putting things in writing merely reminds gentlemen what they agreed to, but also be the type that people know your handshake is always good enough. Do not follow the crowd but lead it. Be willing to stand alone if need be for what is right. Always help those in need. Laugh and don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Oh, and find your own Little Black Dress and you will do just fine.

Until next time

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