I was trying to think of whether I had ever mentioned my friend Larry on here. I don't think I ever did... Most that surround me know him as "My Old Guy". Because that's exactly what he is. He was 77 years old when I met him the year that I was managing an outdoor adventure and fly fishing lodge. He was well seasoned in the areas of fiesty and incorrigable. And somehow along this silly way, he decided he liked me. In fact, he informed me that if he were allowed to have two wives, he would snatch me right up. I didn't offend him. I couldn't shock him. He seemed to see past everything that I always put in the way in hopes that someone would see through and find me. He did. There rarely seem to be many people that do.
There are very few things in this life that I am particular about what I share with someone else. There are very few entry ways that I won't, at the very least, allow someone to peer down for a quick glance, a short whistle and a "holy shit!" But I'm choosey about my river. Protective. One of the toughest things about being a river guide is having to lead people down its winding ways when they just don't appreciate her greatness, her quiet, her ability to sort out everything without saying a word. I worry about people like that - ones that can't just be. But Larry could. He got it. He never fished because of what he caught. Larry fished because he was a fisherman and understood that it was a respected relationship between man and nature. He got that. He liked the zing of the line through the reel, the gentle slap on the water's surface. Here is only one of the reasons that I fell in love with Larry. It was a big reason, but it was still only one.
I had my first glass of scotch with him. Sitting on a veranda, overlooking the April river with its random and rogue ice chunks floating by. Rarely speaking and to most passer-byers, not really acknowledging the other's presence. But we each knew the other was there. I still don't like scotch, but I learned to drink it without screwing up my face. In honour of these moments, it can only be sipped in the mid-afternoon sun of a warm spring day.
Rememberance Day has always been important to me. It slows me down and makes me think, reminds me to be thankful for everything I have, because it's all been given in one form of grace or another. All my essential freedoms never really came from way of my own hand. That's quite something and I hope that if I ever have children of my own, that I can instill that same awe in them - that someone out there died for them - even though they never knew who they were. It's a big deal.
For a good many years, with all the clarity of hindsight, I wasted who I was in acting and being someone that I never really knew but in thinking that everyone would want. While there are probably moments of regret, I am thankful that I learned to step outside of all that foolishness. Sometimes there are moments where I hesitate and want to step back in, only to have someone else make all those consequential decisions. But truth be held and treated gently, that's just not the way things were meant to be. Atleast not in my world. Not a lot is expected of me, in my many roles as a woman, child, daughter and lover, but only I can be responsible for whichever one is present at any given time.
Sometimes I think that I must have picked the most narrow and overgrown path possible to find myself and my life upon. That there's no possible way there's even a trail there. Sometimes I just feel lost in the woods. But the sights! The beautiful, undisturbed wilderness. Those moments of drinking scotch in the afternoon. The moment you realize where those that are around you make you more of who you are and who you're supposed to be - not by their own ideals, but their love for your spirit. They want to see you fly. A seemingly broken road that leads to my completion. I see the subtle changes when I look behind me - a struggle to etch out my realm. There are no solid lines but I can most definately see the trail defined from where I came from to where I stand right now.
Larry always wrote me letters. I think I forgot how to write until he came along. He would send me books and little notes on stationary that had his signature writing at the top. He used an inky pen that spread when he left it in one spot for too long. He encouraged me to think and feel and fly outside of where I was. He always told me I could do it. He would send me books because he knew that I would enjoy them. He always signed everything "Love, Larry xoxo". He used to call me his beautiful Aphrodite. He told me that I was the real reason he came to My River, the fishing was secondary.
Fall has brought a lot of changes. It's still early in the evening, but all is dark outside except for the lights illuminating and casting shadows. Larry died on October 31 after a short illness and not so much of a battle with liver cancer. He was 79. They offered him chemo therapy, but he said "Nope, I'm going for quality, not distance". And he did. His step son called me at home and said that he went peacefully, surrounded by family and thoughts of his times on the banks of a lowly river. And he told me he thought of me. At the request of his family I wrote him one last letter. And I had a good cry.
I can't decide whether you're fishing the run of your dreams, or if you're sitting on the best porch in the heavens - smoking a cigar, graciously understanding and undertaking the lessons of life. This is one of those times where the briefest of meetings culminate into the greatest discoveries - inside and out, on or off any proverbial rivers.
May the river always flow wherever you are - gurgling and running and washing away. May the sun always warm your face, even on the days it may not be seen through the clouds and rain. May the wind always help you cast a favourable line.
You will always be in my heart simply because you are part of it. Love and sunshine, me xo
I'm learning that God blesses some amazing things that I would never have expected possible.