I didn’t want to hear my 80 year old friend’s response when I asked if he and his wife wanted to go canoeing. “The river is up in July- a most unusual occurrence. Will you come?”
“No more canoeing.” he replied.
As in “never ever again?” I thought to myself. That sounds so final. I might think, ok, no more canoeing this summer anymore. The river dried up, have to wait for fall rains before we can get back on. But never again? That sounds so final.
I told him, “You can sit up front like a duffer and we’ll paddle your butt around.”
“Nope. No more.”
I understood his decision, for he has a heart defibulator in his chest, but I was not happy about it.
I don’t want to see my wonderful friend stop. Stop canoeing, stop enjoying life, stop living, as in some day he would not be here anymore to grace our lives.
I then went to our 70 year old friends and asked him if he and his wife wanted to come. “Nope, too much work to do around here,” he said.
Really? On a rare summer day when the water is up and we can paddle a lovely little stream like the Maiden Creek that we can barely ever run?
I thought to myself, wrong decision. In my mind, no work should be so important to stop you from a trip down the river. Not on a Sunday.
So my husband and I went ourselves and had a great time, despite that fact that we would have liked to have shared it. We saw the typical beautiful kingfishers dipping and chased the great blue herons up the river, but then we saw a huge mature Bald Eagle perched in an overhead branch, only 15 feet away. Then another. Then we saw a tiny fawn surface on the bank after it had just swum across all by itself, stumbling and laying down exhausted, looking like it nearly drowned, no mother in site. Then a loon floats by and dives and surfaces and we have never seen a loon in these parts – It was a spectacular paddle.
That 80 year old friend of mine may not remember this but many decades ago he asked me if I wanted to go on an outing. It was ice skating on Ontelaunee Lake, Reading’s water supply. It was an unusual winter and the whole entire lake had frozen over. He and his wife were going with another couple whom we all dearly loved. Todd and I opted out. We were “too busy.” Probably building our log home and thought we should keep working. At least that is what my husband probably convinced me was the best choice. It was not. I regret it to this day. There has never been another opportunity to skate like that all over the huge lake. And, shortly after that, our other friend’s wife suddenly got cancer and died. Nope, I never had a second chance with that experience. I learned my lesson.
I missed the company of our 80 year old friends on the river. And as for our 70 year old friends… he is going to get a lecture next time about missing out and putting off, because there will come a day, before you know it, when you will have to say, “No more canoeing,” for the choice will be gone.
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