On the Point

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

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.

Flappin' your Fish

Image from http://www.capelinks.com/cape-cod/photos/detail/31/

Reese liked to fish the rockpile with his family. I would park my boat as close to Reese's as I could, thinking he knew just where the fish were. But if I got to his spot earlier than he did, he would still catch more fish than anyone else there.

And he put the newly caught fish in a wash tub on top of the engine box. They made a loud flapping noise to rub it in that he was doing better than I was....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Starting a Volunteer Fire Department

One of the Many Stories about Capt. Reese and the growth of our Fire Department:

In 1951, a bunch of young guys were sitting around playing cards and thinking about how long they could drink beer before their wives came looking for them. Captain Reese was one of the boys. Someone came up with a great idea--Why don't we start a fire department?

It turned out they were right....alot of new houses were coming and they were going to need a fire truck. There wasn't any money so they hit the bricks to raise funds to buy a truck and build a station. They started with a pumper named Betsy, and now they have three pumpers and three ambulances. These guys served a higher cause in the community even if it started with some cards and beer.

They also started an annual carnival to raise money for the building and needed equipment. Captain Reese became the Pizza Man for many years. He also set off fireworks on the hillside every year while he left his family in charge of making pizzas. Most of us don't eat pizza anymore, but we made a lot of money for the 2nd District Fire Department.

When Captain Reese took his last call in July 2008, the Second District Fire Department paid him the high honor of bringing truck and ladder in full dress. As you can see above, they sent him off to a place where we hope it won't ever be hot enough to need the truck.

Thanks to all his friends from the Hook and Ladder!

A Potomac Life

For Capt. Reese

by SAM

Land life wears you down.
The River washes you clean.

Your mother a teacher,
father a farmer,
sister a nurse,
brother, but a boy.
You, an entertainer.
At four you ruled the cornfields,
until you fell in love with the snap of stalks
from running a hoe horizontal down a row,
the crack of premonition, headlong and headstrong.
Your quick denials, as muddy
as your bare foot prints over yesterday’s rain.
Your pop picked you up like a sack of flour,
fit tiny feet exactly into an earthen puzzle.
The whippin’ was for the lyin’
and the lyin’ was to cover the fun.

You ran with lightening bugs,
swam in elwives and sea nettles,
dug bushels of Irish potatoes,
before you were five.
Carried water and later hay.
Learned to slaughter those you fed.

You found the water
long before the land could no longer carry you,
before the waves in the fields
came back empty.
Land life wears you down.
The River laps at your soul
and washes you clean.

When pigs and cows sunk their hooves,
Meat was the strength of muscles for work.
But fish was freedom, caught--
On the verge of adventure-
Cumberland to the Atlantic
Not much catch and release back then.
Bones, skin and all went on the table
And a blessing for the Irish luck of the boat.

God is doing the fishing now
And you are blessed to be caught.
Land life wears you down.
You said, “One night on the Potomac
Is worth a thousand in the city.”
This river knows your name.
The River watches, washes us clean,
our insides pretty, and not the same.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fisherman's Sunset


For Captain Reese
by Mary Carolyn

The old Fisherman has gone.
He pulled his anchor in the night
And drifted down the river
Towards the light of dawn,
And so he fishes on.
He didn’t give up without a fight,
Not then, not now or ever.

He never liked leaving
Or saying goodbye,
So he slipped quietly away.
But likely as not,
Between here and heaven,
He’s found the perfect fishing spot.

Sailing dingy, skiff
Or anything afloat.
What more would we wish
For that Old Goat,
But to catch the biggest fish
And have the fastest boat?

So if you cry a bit or pray
And start to dwell on
How much you miss him.
Just hold him in your heart and say:
He’s not just gone.
He’s just gone fishin’.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Waterman bids Farewell

Reese was born on April 24, 1926 on the farm where he lived until July 15, 2008.

As a child, he learned farming, fishing, hunting and playing—things he DID ALWAYS. He was playing pitch by four and added pinochle, poker, spades, and bridge over the years.

When he was four, he took a tobacco stick and ran through a row of corn just to listen the stalks popping. His father asked him if he had done it and Reese said “No.” Pop picked him up, put his little feet in the footprints and explained that the whippin’ was for the lying not the dead corn. He may have been spanked a few other times.

As a teenager at the local high school,there were some shenanigans from time to time. There was that time he put a potato in a teacher’s exhaust pipe and the time he and his buddies put a teacher’s new car up on blocks. There was some talk of drying out sea nettles and putting them in girl’s bathing suits hanging on the line—but we don’t know if it really happened.

He served his country in the Army Air Corp, intending to be a pilot, and always loved to travel. He returned home when his brother, Gilbert, became ill with leukemia. He went back to working the farm and taking care of his parents.

Those who knew him as a talker, may not remember Reese, the doer. He plowed, tilled, planted, watered, combined, cut, bailed and hauled everything from tobacco to tomatoes. He shoveled manure (yes, at times without the shovel), dredged oysters, ran trot lines, and crabbed the creek shore. He drove trucks and fought fires, made pizza for the fire-department carnival, and set-off fireworks every year. He was willing to help his neighbors, sometimes before he helped himself. He plowed them out of the snow, took care of all the old folks, fixed houses and engines, and towed boats off the river.

All along was the constant of fishing—the ones he caught, the ones that got away, and the ones that were so big they took the fishing rod right out of his hand… Reese married Mom in 1949 and set about having a family—and Daddy tells a story. He said he asked Mom to have a boy and she did…and then a girl, and she did…and then he didn’t care, so she had a girl… and then he wanted another boy, so she did. Finally, he didn’t care what came out, and so out came the last girl. That’s his story about how well Mom listened and followed orders.

Then there’s Mom's story of how they met. She was playing tennis when two guys showed up to borrow some golf balls to play the local course. He told her they hit them all into the river when he came back --to ask her out. He said he’d been paying for those balls ever since. But this is really her story about never getting back her golf balls.

Reese worked hard and played hard for 82 years. He farmed, fished, and hunted. Some of his deer stories rivaled his fish tales. He drove thousands of kids on the school bus to their first day of school, and advised them to learn how to take teasing, since his would not be the only teasing they’d get. We have met people in restaurants in DC and Florida who rode my father’s bus. He volunteered in the Elks and Optimist Club and belonged to the Farm Bureau, Soil Conservation District, and Bus Contractor’s Association.

He drank like a fish and fished like a drunk and then found at 58 that he was high on life with the help of Bill W’s friends in AA one day at a time. He had the great pleasure of learning to have fun without any outside help. To the best of our memory, he never lied when it counted, never stole, but gave things away, and never intentionally hurt another living soul.

Daddy was good with kids because he knew all about being one. He kept a young and curious heart. Like a child, he could get along with anyone and take people the way they came. And the man knew the most about having fun of anyone I have ever met. He taught many of us how to lighten up and steer straight.

Reese left each of us a legacy that we can hold for the rest of our lives—
the love of family and friends,
the peace of hard work,
the joy of the River,
and a true and constant honor and respect
for having a helluva good time every day.

Those are the gifts from Reese to all of us:
Find the fun in the moment or make the fun if there’s none to be found.

Remember Reese and Enjoy.