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.
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
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.
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
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...
"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
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.