Life’s limited amount of time apparent during fishing trip

The current was too strong, the weather too cold and water too high to catch any fish Friday.

The conditions were just right, however, to catch some perspective.

I’ve been fishing alongside my father, a 64-year-old Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient and retired steel mill worker, for as long as I can remember.

This trip, though, was much more than just a reminder of how pops and I can’t catch fish. It was a reminder of how great it is that pops and I still have the chance to not catch fish.

Nearly one month ago, my father underwent surgery to remove his cancerous prostate. After spending a few days in the hospital and having the rest of his organs confirmed as A-OK, he recovered at home. However, complications sent him back to the hospital Super Bowl Sunday for a week. During that time he was unable to eat or drink while a tube slowly drained his stomach.

The news, which sat on my shoulders as comfortably as King Kong, caused a heavy heart and hours of sitting in a St. Margaret’s hospital room. I would’ve done anything, no matter how unfeasible or irrational – like switching places with him – to ease the burden.

But luckily he didn’t need that.

Using a positive attitude and determination – traits that I’m proud to say he passed down to me – he left the hospital permanently just days later.

Fast forward two weeks and a few casts later and pops is moving around like he spent all his time in St. Kitts, not St. Margaret’s. Although he may not feel 100 percent, he certainly looks it; you’d sooner think he’d run a 5K race than undergone prostate surgery. Even though he’s still a good month away from fully recovering, he’ll soon be better than ever.

But if this ordeal has reminded me of anything – other than how grumpy my dad gets when he goes a while without eating – is that time is our most important nonrenewable resource.

Physics tells us that somewhere, somehow, in the vastness of this universe, time can be manipulated. Our own brains mislead us into believing that our time alive is infinite. Neither, unfortunately, has yet to be proven true.

The days we spend in this world with our loved ones are numbered. It’s a fact that we fail to realize until the curtain concealing our lifetime’s hourglass is pulled away, if even only for a second.

That’s why college has overstayed its welcome with me. The seconds I spend in Erie, away from my family, validating a formality – that I will, in fact, graduate – are seconds that I’m going to eventually regret.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any way I can change that.

What I can do is to make sure every fish caught, every ball thrown and every conversation held with my father is tucked away in my mind’s impenetrable vault.

But dad, I don’t care if we ever catch another fish again as long as I’m baiting my hook next to you.

 

ZACK MCDERMOTT

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