Something Worth Writing About

26 11 2013

Since my last post nearly two years ago several significant events have occurred in my life that are probably great fodder for blogging but they just didn’t seem to be anything I wanted to share or felt compelled to write about–that is until last Saturday.  Before I share that experience I should provide a bit of back story.

One of the many fortunate features of my life is what some people consider to be a unique friendship.  There are three other guys that I have been close friends with since 1st grade–that’s nearly sixty years.  All four of us and our ladies get together two or three times a year but in two’s or three’s, I probably see the guys eight to ten times a year.  I should mention that we all live in different towns in Southern Indiana.  We have been through it all together; everything from Cub Scouts to alter boys to Vietnam to godfathers to one another’s children to loosing spouses.

One of these guys, my best friend, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma,  He was told that the numbers indicated a best case of two years.  That was back in 2008.  Once he had exhausted all the traditional chemotherapy, he opted to seek out experimental treatments.  For five years, his three closest friends and his sister have traveled with him nearly every month to a clinic somewhere in the United States to take part in drug trial study groups testing new protocols to slow down the cancer.  Although he still has cancer it seems to have been arrested for the last six months–keeping our fingers crossed.

That’s the back story needed in order to understand what happen Saturday.

My buddy and I went down to a beautiful area west of Louisville to participate in a fund raising event for Reel Recovery.  Reel Recovery is an organization whose mission is to introduce men with cancer to fly fishing.  I have been a fly fisherman since my teenage years; I learned from our Scoutmaster.  However, my friend never did seem to be interested in the sport.

Anyway, the event was a fishing tournament in which the participants could only use one fly and everyone had to use the same pattern of fly.  If you are not a fly fisherman this may not seem like such a big deal but, believe me, it is a major deal.  It would be like telling a golfer he can only take one club and one ball out onto a PGA course to compete.

Saturday morning the weather was cold and my buddy said he didn’t expect anybody in his right mind to show up.  I told him that fly fishermen going after trout would not be deterred by the weather; he just rolled his eyes.  Well, when we pulled into the parking lot we were hard pressed to find a spot.  There must have been over fifty cars/trucks there with men and women pulling on their waders, lacing up their wading boots and rigging their gear.  My buddy just shook his head and said, “I guess I was wrong.  I figured you and I would be the only dumb asses out in this weather.”

Fast forward three hours and I was having a great time–I wasn’t catching any fish–but I was having a great time.  What’s that old saying about a bad day fishing . . .?  During this time the other guy on our three man team and I were giving my buddy tips.  The other guy was an experienced fly fisherman also.  We had my buddy make a small adjustment in his presentation which he did.  Next cast, the water exploded and the look on my buddy’s face was a lifetime memory.  I know he wasn’t sure who had caught whom–him or the bull rainbow on the end of his line.  This fish (biggest one caught by anyone in the tournament) tail danced across the surface of the stream in a scene you would expect to be one the cover of a fly fishing magazine.  As my buddy tried to hold on for dear life, our fishing partner and I quickly retrieved our lines so as not to tangle with the monster on the end of my buddy’s line. We both know this was something special and got into position with a net and a camera.

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My buddy was trying to be cool about it but on the way home he admitted that his heart was racing and that he thinks he is starting to understand a little better why I like fly fishing so much.  It only took us five decades to make that connection.  What a great day.  Hopefully, there will be many more.

So many rivers and so little time.

-gw-

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