I haven’t been able to do nearly as much as I used to in these few weeks since surgery…major surgery will do that to you. But last night I was able to get out and see the world. I was thrilled to see a road we usually take was open after floods. Finally! They hadn’t done any work to it, but it was dry and passable.
An amazing, wonderful, post-flood world awaited. The views were stunning and the photos were incredible.
The highlight of the evening was running into an equally-enthusiastic man on a fishing mission. We’d seen him before on these rides. He drives an old truck and always has his old black lab with him. While standing outside marveling at the incredible views that we haven’t been able to see for months, the man parked, let his dog out, caught a few minnows in hopes of a really big fish in return and then joined us further down the road.
In listening to this man we learned he is a Vietnam veteran, with Agent Orange. He’s had a tough life dealing with broken relationships, nightmares from the war and fighting for his disability rights that took him over 40 years to obtain.
“I just had two nightmares last night,” he said. “Man, I hope they don’t come true.”
We listened to his war stories, the government’s denial of his benefits and his stories of joy, hope and happiness. Last night it was just him and his dog. The previous night he had been fishing with family members and they had caught several fish — many were gar — which was much to his dismay. He loves to fish, hunt and enjoy his life. These are his stomping grounds too.
“If you know a woman who likes to fish, look me up,” were some of his parting words.
This man was a generous man, offering to let us fish with him, offering us beverages and plenty of stories. On that lone dirt road, we met a true gem — and I imagine a legend of sorts in the area. The next time I run into this man, I hope to do a photo shoot of sorts with him — a photo essay capturing the essence of his life, his struggles and his perseverance over it all. There’s a story in everyone, I promise. It’s just that some people are more open and willing to share than others.
It’s those moments in life that makes the rest of the stresses melt away — in those moments listening to him tell stories about his life the rest of the world felt so far away. It was an important lesson — if we live in the moment — and allow that moment to consume us — the rest will fall away. Even if it’s just for a bit. Truthfully, the stresses of the world will be there waiting for us when we’re ready to return.
The evening was capped off with a stunning sunset over the marshes, many critters and a great feeling of joy.