“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water,
about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”
Sometimes I catch myself thinking in “Lasts”.
When I can put myself into that frame of mind, the moment becomes richer and memories start flooding in like a slide show across my mind.
I was doing that yesterday when I was thinking about my dad and how today might be the last Father’s Day for us both.
Funny how a mind collects random events and saves them for whenever. Isn’t it?
I remember the day we were out on Buzzards Bay in his Boston Whaler. The four of us kids were treated to a day of fishing and swimming off of Black Beach and were headed home when the fog rolled in.
Within minutes the boat was engulfed and we couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us.
I recall the silence. There was a fear in it. Four little kids and a man suddenly in the middle of nowhere. listening to the waves lapping against the side of the boat as my dad cut the engine.
I felt dread. How do you get home when you don’t know where you are? Would I ever see my mom again?
I don’t know how my dad felt. But he acted like he’d been in that situation a million times. While we all hunkered down and stared out into the mist, nervously asking him what would become of us, he slowly revved the motor and turned the boat so that the waves would hit the back and right side of the boat.
“You gotta watch for rocks,” he said. “And you gotta find the shore. The shore will lead you home.”
I’d heard of navigating by the stars. But what if you couldn’t see them?
I’d never thought of using dry ground to navigate.
The waves were headed towards the shore, and as we followed them we eventually saw the sandy beach we’d been swimming at earlier in the day. My dad turned the boat in the opposite direction when we were close enough and we headed home. We eased ourselves around the jetty that jutted out from the beach and finally saw the mouth of the harbor.
Home was minutes away.
Never once had my dad lost his cool. He was sure he could find his way in the darkness. He was confident that if we went slow enough it would all work out.
Worry may have lurked below the surface, just like the rocks beneath the waves. But his calm determination to find the shore in the midst of uncertainty was an anchor for four little kids who didn’t have the knowledge or experience he had.
It’s Father’s Day. I want to thank my dad for one of the most profound gifts he ever gave me.
He opened my heart and mind to the principle of hope.
Head for home when the storms roll in.
Watch for rocks ’cause they’re there.
Look for the shore when you feel lost.
One foot in front of the other. One step at a time.
- What lessons did your dad teach you? Did he know that you learned? Have you (did you) ever told him?