Capt. Gary Henderson, Florida

June 14th, 2004

RIPPLES
In Memory of Steve and Terry
By Captain Gary (Flats Dude) Henderson

Most of us, as kids, had some access to water whether it was a creek, stream, river or lake. I had lakes all around. There were usually an abundance of stones or rocks, and we would either skip them across the surface, or throw them into the water. This action would cause ripples, and the ripples would expand into large circles...three hundred and sixty degree circles. These ripples would eventually touch everything that was in their path.

All afternoon I sat in the green chair down on the bank and tossed a few pebbles into the lake behind the house. I began to think how the pebbles represented me, and the lake was my life. The ripples on the surface, I transposed into how I influence others. How far would they reach? How would they possibly touch others? What impact would they have? I was sad...I still am, at this moment.

There have been others that have caused ripples, and those very ripples may go unnoticed by that person; they touched and changed my life. How valuable were those ripples? Have my ripples created change, or affected others? I decided ripples were extremely important; I reaffirmed this down by the lake this afternoon.

A few nights ago, I was touched by yet another ripple. It came in sadness and the lack of being able to understand purpose. This was the second time in eight months I had been touched by the same feeling of discontent.

Eight months ago, I lost a best friend. A few nights ago, I lost another. I don't use the words "best friend" loosely. These are two words that hold the highest of respect. They are the cream of the crop, the best of the best. Those two words are stronger than blood.

I understand death, logically. It is the ending of life. Emotionally, I ask the same question everyone else does. Why? There is no correct answer to the emotional question, though. The Master of us all only knows the answer of why, and unfortunately, it's none of our business. We often wish for just one more day with that person who has passed over to the other side. The Master knew this wouldn't be enough, for we would only want one more, then another. So, He invented memories. Now I have to unfold the envelope that was so carefully tucked deep within my heart and pull from those memories.

Terry Friedrich and Steve Letchworth were two of my best friends. They passed from this world all too soon, at least for those of us still here. I knew them both for an equal amount of years. I met them through a ripple, a ripple that was caused by Captain Jon Cave. Jon introduced us. They were both fly fishers. We were all fly fishers. But, we were more than that. We were a unit, and that unit was composed of several fly fishers that became best friends. We didn't hang out every weekend; we didn't call each other every day or week. But, when we did, we either needed each other, or one of us had planned a fishing trip and was about to extend an invitation, or had set a date for a gathering of our families for a cookout. Our conversations began where we had left off. We were always aware that we were only ten digits away, or a few miles apart.

Once we were Jon Cave, Terry Friedrich, Bill Parlaska, Ron Rebeck, Steve Letchworth and me. We still are, in spirit, but that just doesn't seem good enough, right now. Jon told me yesterday, as we spoke of Steve and Terry, he was tired of losing his friends. I am, too.

Steve Letchworth

Last night, I sat on the back porch talking to Linda through tears and a lump in my throat. She was allowing me the time to vent my anger and sadness of loosing my best friends. I also listened to her sadness and questions through her own tears of sadness. I had no answers for her. She knew them both, maybe not as well as I did, but their ripples had touched and influenced her, also. We will miss those guys. I will miss their funny stories, their irreverence of seriousness. I will miss Steve calling me to let me know that Carol and he would be coming to the house to have my barbequed ribs, totally uninvited. I will miss the kidding around. Mostly, I will miss the brotherhood.

We all must remember, and be thankful, from whom our ripples come. We must always be aware of the ripples we are sending out, and always remain the guardians of them. They influence many more than we are cognizant of, and it is our sincere responsibility to cast those pebbles in a positive trajectory into the waters of life.

Terry Friedrich Although, it may seem morbid or strange to some, Linda asked me to take her to the site where Steve's spirit departed this Earth. I was hesitant in the beginning, but we went there. I stood with her in a soft rain in the edge of the wood. The sun was setting and was peeking through one of the most spectacular sunsets I had ever seen. "How appropriate," I could barely say the words. Linda agreed. Now I know why she wanted to go there. There was a certain closure, a calming of the storm that raged inside of us. The answers were provided somehow. Tomorrow I will bid farewell to Steve. I will ask Terry to show him around. I think Terry met him on the other side with fly rod in hand.

Last year a friend of mine gave me a poem that someone had given to him when his father passed on. I don't know who wrote it. I wish I had. Take it with you. It has great powers...

"TOGETHERNESS"

"Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other; that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way in which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Pray, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was; there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well."

I must go now, the sun is setting. The lake behind the house is waiting for us. I have an appointment. I am to meet Terry and Steve at the shoreline. We will wade the lake, talk, laugh and tell stories that once happened. When we are finished, I will leave a few flies on the wooden gate. They may need them later... to leave a few ripples on the lake.

See y'all next week. ~ Capt. Gary

About Gary:

Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area. After moving a little closer to the coast, his interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."

He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the waters will ever be present.

Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater patterns in the early '90's and has participated as a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting and tying instructor and stained glass artist, creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.


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