I was spending some time in my native upstate New York this past week, and my mother came across a collection of photos that my father’s mother, Agnes McCabe, rest her soul, gave to my Mom when my father and her were married.
In this one you can see my Dad, who served his country in U.S. Army Intelligence Agency from 1954-1957, standing next to the hide of a killed polar bear in Alaska, where he and the remainder of his unit were, or so I was told, on the lookout for any type of incoming attack from the then Soviet Union.
He rarely talked about the Army, but I do remember small details. He said that at times, migrating birds appeared to be something like aircraft on the radar, and we were terrifyingly close to starting a war that I can’t even imagine. When asked about the Army, and why he enlisted, he only ever said: “It had something to do with a girl.”
But had he not enlisted in the Army, having come from a poverty-stricken family, he almost certainly would not have been able to afford law school. Had he not become a successful lawyer, I don’t know that I’d be here, writing this blog.
When I look at events in this fashion, it helps me understand them and it helps me see a greater purpose behind even the smallest details.
My father, at 77, was almost the exact age of life expectancy when he passed. But he didn’t die from a heart attack or a car accident (although Lord knows, the way he drove, that certainly could have happened several times).
He passed from skin cancer, a cancer that has killed more people in recent decades than all other cancers combined, and a cancer particularly dangerous for outdoorsmen, and fishermen especially, because sun reflects off the water and makes us even more vulnerable to harmful UV rays.
Now some would dismiss his being diagnosed with this disease, and having a son who spent the majority of his life fishing as often as he possibly could, as a coincidence.
I see more, and perhaps it’s because I choose to see more. I have faith that there is more than might be apparent to us on the surface of things.
And that faith, even when this project has seemed daunting, difficult, unlikely or ill-advised, keeps me moving forward every day.
Because of that faith, we have Native Eyewear, Sunology Sunscreen, Get Vicious Fishing, Hanes, Rick Roth at Mirror Image and Buff, who have all donated either money, products, or their time to this effort. For that faith, the help that it has brought to this cause, and for my father’s service, sacrifice and love, I’m grateful every day.