“Go fishing with you Dad.”

After all he is just another little boy, someone’s small son.  He is just one of many young boys who often hold high hopes, banking on a fishing trip way too early in the morning. So this morning, he tugs at his sleeping Dad’s arm having no thought about his parents needs, adult habits, no idea of what vacations really mean to those who work all 50 other weeks of the year. To the boy it is a simple truth, plain, one certain, just as peanut butter goes with jelly: vacations are not to be wasted on sleep.

There is an eerie early morning light slanting through the white hemmed green window shades now gently moving in the wind. The boy’s bare toes grip a tongue and grooved plank flooring, ones still wet from the night’s dampness. The cabin is a small one. Very open to the sun with a porch overhanging the lake down below. The boy can smell the water, he can feel the wind. His dad snores on, and on, spending precious first light the fish are biting time on sleep. The question arises: How dumb is that?

The boy is absolutely desperate to parley this day’s earliest hours into a fishing bonanza, but what can be done? He tugs again on his dad’s night shirt sleeve. Nothing. Then again, maybe there is a slight movement, a flittering of the eye lids or twisting of the lips. That’s it!=: Mighty Mouse to the rescue!

It’s not easy climbing up on the squeaking mattress and box springs. Why on earth people insist on sleeping two miles off the floor is anyone’s guess. But if the boy hangs on tight enough to the covers as he stretches out one hand after another, pulling forward while sliding backwards at the same time, he will eventually make it up to the top of his sleeping dad’s trampoline chest. Perfect! Let the bouncing begin.

Now standing upright on a sleeping chest is another matter all together. The boy assumes his air-plane stance to better balance on the lumpy blankets beneath his feet. Arms straight out in both directions. Stomping lightly. Slam! Quickly and expertly the boy lands his knees into the stomach area of his suddenly awakening dad.

He just knew his dad would wake up sometime but this is a miracle! Parents do eventually wake up! But for just an instant the boy thinks he might have been told before not to jump on his sleeping dad, just like he has done now. This could be bad. But then again, his dad is a loving father, one not prone to yelling, spanking or even getting riled much by anything. And,-we’re talking fishing. But it’s clear his dad can hardly make out what the boy is saying- this would be nothing new.

You see early on in life this boy realized what he said and what people heard were two different things entirely. At first he figured the world to be at best half deaf or disinterested. But as time would show it would take three years of speech lessons during his middle school years before his tongue would stop sledding on his lips as he talked. So now, this morning, no doubt what his dad heard was a series of Ssss, with Shssss and Thssss all mixed together as the child spoke. His dad rubbed his eyes again,.

“What?  Awe, Golly nad, come on now-it’s too early.”

“Cometh on nowsss-leths, go!”

“Awe, honey, I’ve been up til three!” (And no doubt, if truth be known, his dad spent much of last night barking at the moon from the dock down below with his sister and Brother-in-law. This was and still is a family tradition…spending late nights out by the lake trying to imitate sober people. Even today this same family in younger generations boasts of perfectly looped Loon calls, wobbling quackless duck sounds, astrological zodiac sightings of widely varying opinions and countless Northern Light exposures.)

But then the miracle really does happen. The boy’s father swings out of bed, plants both feet on the floor, stands up and says: “OK.”

Zooming down the outside stairs, feet pattering the dock boards, gear, tackle and smelly worms all load the boat along with one sleepy unshaved  father and one super hyped up child. Early dawn lake mist rises from the water’s surface cooling everything it touches. The boat is untied; oars are in place,  a wake gently parts before the boat’s bow. It’s a morning to remember.

Of course, you know this boy is me from so long ago. How else would I know how much this morning had meant to the child if the child was not me? Just how far we rowed, where we fished, what we caught and exactly when we came back to our dock, I really just can’t recall. To remember these things now would only be my imagination reaching back in hopes of getting at least one snap-shot memory to focus vividly in my mind. But there is one thing I didn’t forget.

Looking back now what I recall most about this day is the one word I heard spoken by my dad at his bedside in the early morning light: “OK.”

“Ok.” It is a simple word. Oh I know, I’ve been there in parenthood, a time when the clock simply losses several hours every day. Sometimes the answer just has to be, no, not now, maybe later, we can’t, better not, I’m busy. Life can all be such a rush. But perhaps this word is not used often enough. Maybe it would do us all good to try and take a step back from our hurry and turn time upside down for another just by using this one, simple, short word: “OK.”

Night into day; no into yes; forgotten time into one remembered.

Good Luck.

Franque

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