A Hole in the Water Filled With Love

[Author's note:  Yet again, it has been longer than usual since I have written.  Read the column below, and you'll understand why.  Memory-making is a time-consuming task!]

Growing up, I never knew we were rich.

Don’t get me wrong. We never went hungry. We had a really nice five-acre spread out in the country. I didn’t wear $100 jeans, but mine never had holes in them. Not once do I recall my parents turning down any request on my part to take a school trip, no matter where it might be. So we were comfortable. But rich? Not us.

Then I got the chance to first board my dad’s boat. And I realized how rich were.

I was almost ashamed to think of having access to such a noble vessel when most of the rest of the world was land-bound for life. Almost, but not quite.

Oh, the adventures we had on that boat. It is funny how the memories come together. In some I remember a yacht of such length and breadth that Mr. Trump himself would be envious. In others I reflect on a tour-quality bass boat speeding to the weigh-in for a guaranteed share of the prize. Still in others I recall a true Cajun queen, loaded down with ducks and geese destined for a dark, spicy gumbo. And in a pinch, that boat of Dad’s magically transformed into a pirate ship or a landing craft or a battleship, whatever my imagination mandated for the playtime of the moment.

But whatever shape the vessel now takes in the waterways of my mind, the captain and crew remain the same. It was me and Dad. Dad and me. On the high seas, in the marsh, over an oyster reef, or deep in the swamp, my dad and I carved out our own pieces of maritime lore. Sometimes I would wonder, was it really the boat that made all the difference?

Then one day, well into my college studies but home for a short weekend visit, I glanced out the window of my parents’ house and saw…a boat. A short, riveted, leaky boat. An aluminum jon boat with a small Mercury outboard mounted on the transom. Not a smart cruiser or a rolling deck boat or speedy tournament craft. A hole in the water. Nothing more than a boat.

You may wonder why my mind wandered to that old washtub. I got the itch to fish recently, and I began pooling my “couch cushion treasure” and “floor mat finds”. I pored through the classified ads until I found a water-worthy vessel. It wasn’t the Queen Mary, but it would float. However it did have enough room for a captain and a one or two-man crew. So I made a deal (a blind one, no less) and scheduled a date to go pick it up; it was not unlike what I expected:  sixteen feet of aluminum hull with a small Mercury outboard, side steering console with motor trim. Just a hole in the water.

But something magical happened when I pulled that little boat into our driveway. I didn’t see it until my kids called my attention to it. “Wow, Daddeaux, where’d you find a boat that HUGE?” “Daddeaux, do you think we’ll catch any whales on this boat?” “Do you think this will outrun a pirate ship?” “We REALLY must be rich to have a boat like this, right Daddeaux?”

I nearly missed it. I had not brought home an aluminum skiff. I didn’t buy a good fishing rig. I had created dreams and poured the foundation for a lifetime of memories. Suddenly, that hole in the water got a little bit bigger and a little bit faster and a little bit classier. My eyes, for some reason, misted up as I stared at it.

My oldest boy, who had remained in the background as his younger siblings circled and ogled the newest addition to the family, snapped me from my reflections back to reality.

“Hey, Daddeaux,” he said, almost in a whisper. “I’ll bet you and me are gonna have a lot of adventures on that boat, huh?”

God, I hope so.


  1. Wow, Jeff! Great job! Brought a tear to my eye...love you!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts