On the Point

On the Point
God's Country and a Waterman's Backyard

Friday, July 23, 2010

Memorial to the Captain

for Reese on July 16, 2010
Sam McKay

The fish just weren’t biting
like they did in the Southern Potomac
meandering days, lazy like the croaker and trout
that didn’t get away.

The winner’s circle tight among four or five boats,
skunked or loaded, we won the evening silence,
cool enough to dry sweat off a rancid day.

We pan-fried them fast, a second dinner,
an early breakfast,
sweetness, tender and light across our tongues.

July was fat with the calm before or after
whitecaps on the creek, bluecrabs steamed
from God reminding you the meaning
of summer thunder.

Two years after you’d gone
the fish just didn’t care.
I had the wrong lure, a heavy sinker,
bad bait, a shaky hand.

It’s just the luck of the line,
a cast away from the big one.
I can’t keep what I catch in DC,
I can’t fry them from these blackened waters.

I toss a bobber off the dock with
spot memories and perch dreams,
I’m already forgetting little lies you told
at the breakfast table,
the black drum or sly blue that got away
just beside the boat.

This city baits me daily and I bite.
Noise from planes and cars spar with each other,
The tide can rise by only half this far from the Bay.
I can’t hold the rod and feel the play
I miss you, Daddy,
like I missed a thousand fish
swimming circles
just under my hook last night.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Gifts we Make and Take

This year I bought a wreath to support Woodrow Wilson High School since that was Mom’s Alma-Mater High School. I ran out from work early to pick it up and try to beat the traffic. I expected the wreath would already be decorated but it wasn’t. As I fled the city to get to St. Mary’s in time for the snow, I just couldn’t get it out of my head that I had to stop and get decorations for this plain wreath--not milk and bread, a snow shovel, salt or any other necessities, but decorations! I stopped in Waldorf at Michael’s Arts and Crafts and some card shop and finally the Dollar Tree. All the while the flakes were on their way and I kept saying to myself, “Why am doing I this crazy crap?”

I had a plastic Maryland crab in the car left over from a summer crab feast with my sister and I began to look for shells or other sea creatures I could put on the wreath. Michael’s was just too expensive….and I thought the Dollar Tree would have nothing. I got there and wandered the aisles listening to children and parents playing Holiday Shopping-tug-of-war. Just when I was about to give up, I found these beautiful Christian fish magnets. I hardly noticed them since I’m not big on exclusive religious symbols. But I knew they would be perfect for Daddy’s river wreath. So here is the photo of how it came out.

After I was half-way through the drive home from my surprising digressions, the snow began to fall. I suddenly remembered the many years Dad took us into the neighbor’s woods (with permission-believe it or not—since it was deer season and we didn’t want to get shot!) and we picked up running cedar and holly for wreaths. We sat and made them together for friends and family and he taught us how to do a beautiful job on every one.

So THAT was why I was so determined to get it done before the storm. Now the river wreath graces our front door this season with a dusting of snow on top. Maybe next year I will go see the neighbor myself. It just takes some coat hangers, twine, some laughter, and a broom. It always seemed like an easy recipe with Dad around. But I bet with a few of those sentiments on the wreath, we could remember just how to make them with love.

With Dad around---Let It Snow, Let It Snow

All weekend, I’ve been asking Dad's spirit to look out for us not losing our power during this blizzard since all the lines are above ground down here. And we haven’t lost it yet. Just as I finished my little morning prayer about it, I came down to a warm, sunlit kitchen and looked out the window. This is what I found….a long line of geese parading just in front of where Daddy used to shoot. They were saying “Na, na, na, naaa, na.”

Now geese usually did not live long around Dad's watchful eye for game.

I think this was Daddy’s way of sending an Ironic Christmas wish:

Geese in a perfect line that aren’t planning on being anyone’s Christmas dinner! Right up close and personal with no one around to shoot at them!

Thanks for small reminders, Dad.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Thanksgiving Dance

Without the Captain, Thanksgiving was a bit quieter than usual. We celebrated in a new home for T&T that Reese 'oversaw' being built and enjoyed briefly before he left us. He was very proud of T&T and their long, hard road to a beautiful home.

For dinner, we had our stuffed ham and oysters as always but it was not quite the same. Reese always made sure there were stewed tomatoes on the table and he usually made the rolls from scratch. Well, no rolls and no tomatoes but lots of amazing food and memories to enjoy.

....like Reese scouting the woods on Turkey Day to get a deer stand ready for deer season... or making a run out of the Creek to the River because it was still warm enough to throw a line out and someone had said they were catchin'em....On turkey day, from low in his Lazyboy, Reese would loudly advocate a winner in a bowl game, fall asleep in the chair during half time, and wake up long after the game had been decided. He didn't care as long as Dallas didn't win.....and he got ice cream on his pie.

This year I've also had time to be thankful to those men and women of AA that saved my father from old demons I could never understand. Those groups kept him sober and focused on helping others for twenty years even as his own health failed. I am stunned by the possibility of a second life much fuller than the first. I guess we all can be grateful for a second chance at some time in our lives.

So now I am thinking of everything our family has to be thankful for...and we are very happy for the many years Dad and Mom were together at Thanksgiving. Many families we knew had divorce to deal with, but Captain Reese and MR just fought it out and went on with the next challenge. For 59 years they bickered back and forth, ignored each other, and yelled from time to time. They also hugged, held hands, and danced across wooden floors all over St. Mary's County. We are thankful for those dances that unfolded like movie stars gliding across a set. I gawked with embarrassement to see my parents dancing so close and so well together. Now I am truly glad for them...finding their way through a large mortgage, broken tractors, falied crops, and five children to an open dance floor. I think I will never say no to another dance as long as my feet will allow.

In 2008, we are thankful for family and friends whose love we value beyond all measure. We wish them peace, joy and prosperity of spirit. If Captain Reese were here with us, he would surely say the same. He would bid us all hunt, fish, dance and hold each other tight in an uncertain world. We find certainty in the love that holds our dance together.

dance, danCE, DANCE....

photo from http://www.campitalia.com/2007/eng/pages/instructors.htm

Sunday, October 19, 2008

To all the nurses he's loved before.....

Captain Reese landed in the hospital on many occasions over the years. He always managed to flurt and tease his way into the good (or very bad) graces of the nurses . It was common to see him eating ice-cream that he had charmed off his nurse long after dinner hours.
Phots from www.Narpac.org

No matter what the ailment, Reese would find a way to make a joke. He was rarely appropriate, but usually very funny. He would get out of the hospital very quickly based on the mischief he was able to create on the unit.

After the accident in June, Reese wasn't able to be up to his old tricks but the nurses and doctors at the Critical Care Unit did everything they could to help him get better and keep him comfortable.

So to all of you at PG Critical Care Unit, especially Betty, you are SO lucky my father couldn't give you a hard time while he was with you. He would have dished it out if he could have taken it.
PG Critical Care gave Reese and his family exemplary care, honor, and respect.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunrise on Herring Creek

The morning of Captain Reese's funeral, I got up at dawn and went fishing for perch in back of the house. I chanced to wake a great blue heron napping on a fallen limb that caught my wayward cast. What a squawker! He gave me a hard time from the moment he woke up until he lit on the shore across the creek. Squawk, squawk..."Why are you bothering me? Why don't you leave me alone? Can't a bird get a little shut-eye around here?"

I thought about waking Captain Reese from his afternoon naps and the protests sounded much the same to me. I didn't catch any fish that morning, but I may have caught a bit of my father still complaining about losing sleep!

Photo taken at Morro Strand, CA by Mike Baird at http://picasaweb.google.com/mikebaird/2006_06_17_Morro_Strand#4941801453773717522

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Santa Reese

I will always remember the fun times with the family, especially at Chritmas time. Reese always enjoyed the family as he dressed up as Santa Claus! He probably scared the kids. His natural white beard added that extra touch. His face would be warm for winter fishing. Then he would shave it in the Spring.

illustration by Ted Walke taken from http://www.fish.state.pa.us/anglerboater/1998/novdec98/badsanta.html.

Reese kept the Christmas spirit all year round. When he was younger, he used 'spirits' to keep the spirit. When he got sober, he kept his love of family, children, and gift-giving. He liked to open all his presents and let the paper fly everywhere. Finally, someone would pick it up and put it in the fireplace but not before the floor was completely covered.

He could always laugh like Santa Claus!

illustration by Ted Walke taken from http://www.fish.state.pa.us/anglerboater/1998/novdec98/badsanta.html.