Traffic, a sunrise, cheeseburgers and a front-porch sunset

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My wife and I left the house at 3am and it definitely wasn’t fun getting through all the Memorial Day traffic on that Friday. I’ll admit that I was grumpy for much of the drive but I’m so glad we went. I touched a fishing rod about 10 times throughout the day. I sat behind the center console and just watched and enjoyed my dad and wife catching fish with our old friend, Mack. I get to fish whenever I want to and I wasn’t worried about catching anything that day. I just wanted to watch my 69-year-old dad have a good time and laugh with my wife.

I’ll never forget watching my dad smile in the sunrise as we ran under Brown’s Bridge. I had my hat backwards and my favorite fishing hoodie on as I looked to my left at my beautiful wife wearing one of my old fishing sweatshirts… and she was smiling as big as the ocean is wide. Our old buddy Mack was smiling, too.

And you can bet your butt I was grinning like a mule eating briars.

It was just a perfect fall-like day in the summer and I don’t believe I’ll ever forget any detail of it. Those are the moments, in my mind, where fishing takes a very distant backseat. I was just taking mental snapshots of three of my favorite people.

Once our great trip came to an end, my wife and I sat in our car and I waited for my dad to pull out of the boat ramp parking lot. I could tell she was ready to leave but I needed to see my dad’s truck pull out for some reason; you just never know when it’s the last fishing trip. As I watched him slowly ease out of the Old Federal Boat Ramp, I got a little choked up. I know he had a great time, I know he wishes he could do it every day and it was tough to watch him leave the “happy place” he hadn’t visited in 18 years.

When my wife and I finally got home after dealing with that crazy Atlanta-area Memorial Day traffic, we were absolutely toast. We pulled into town around 7pm, grabbed two cheeseburgers from the local Dairy Queen, stumbled in the door, inhaled our food and she got right in the shower. Within 30 minutes of finishing our fast-food supper, my sweet girl was asleep.

I was absolutely exhausted too, but I couldn’t make myself go to sleep. I turned on the Braves game (I haven’t missed a single game in almost 20 years), grabbed a cold beer from the fridge and walked onto our front porch. The sun was setting over the lake, my girl was asleep with our cat snuggled next to her and I had just had one of the best days of my life. As the remaining scent of early summer honeysuckle wafted over my right shoulder and I sank into a rocking chair, I reflected and wiped an occasional happy tear from my eye.

Dad won’t live forever.

Neither will I.

How many times in life do we get a chance to focus on what really matters, put our careers aside and just be human beings? Not nearly enough, if you ask me.

That day of fishing will be etched in my memory until the day my ashes are returned to the earth. My dad’s smile in the sunrise. My wife’s giggles as she reeled in a giant catfish. Mack’s calming presence and advice. The nostalgia of years past. Dairy Queen cheeseburgers. A lake sunset from our front porch. A cold beer. The most beautiful woman I know fast asleep in our bed.

And it was all because I said the word “yes”.

I encourage you to do the same when afforded the opportunity.