On Fam'ly Traditions - 3rd third -
With 2 dinky bedrooms...and only 3 beds...the one time I'd been here I'd slept on a cot! And tossin' a coin for the one with 2 beds...the-odd-man the loser...it was Leo and Dad.
But Dad, for a reason I'd learn about later, privately claimed that the smaller room's bed was quite a bit firmer...and asked if I'd trade...on account of his...back bein' bad!
Well...it ain't very often I question my dad...but pretty much all of us fib now and then, and all morning long I was watchin' for signs that his back was messed up...like he'd said...
But now that I've suffered a night next to Leo, who I'm tellin' ya', snores like a Grizzly, the reason is clear that his reason for swapping had nothing to do with the bed!
Not having slept for as long as ten minutes, I grabbed me a chair and slipped out to the deck. Three hours later I watched as my father would swing the stove’s door and then pack it with wood.
Using his lighter to start us a fire...something that stove hadn't felt for ten years…Dad placed a couple o' pans on the burners to whip up some vittles like only he could.
He'd plugged in the ice box the minute we'd entered, hoping it actually worked, aware, by its vintage, the thing was most likely as old as the cabin itself.
Ten minutes later, when Leo emerged, the same as he typically did, Dad quizzed him, “How do ya’ want ‘em, old man?”...while dragging some plates off a shelf...
“The cistern's near full, and I made us some Joe.” “Two, over-easy,” Leo replied, “an’ if ya' do sausage, I’ll take me a pair, Son...if it’s bacon - throw me in three.”
“Ya' got it,” Dad said, “but...before ya' sit down...check on the dork on the deck! He looks like a Zombie. Maybe he's sleepin'! See what he's wantin'... then signal to me.”
Leo obediently flashed him my order...three sunny-uppers an' five strips o’ bacon. I'd gotten no sleep, and soon would be fishin' with those whom had boogered my night,
So I was determined to make sure my belly was filled with a bunch o' good food, 'cause tryin' to fish when you're hungry - and cranky - as I'm sure you'll agree - isn't right.
We'd finished with breakfast by 6:45, when Dad started dousing the fire in the stove, and, after submerging the plates and utensils and cups in the sink that he'd filled,
He stocked up a cooler with jerky and beer, unaware that, but only once more would we spend a night in the cabin that - 45 years ago...Leo'd been willed!
After confirming we had all we needed to spend the day out on the lake,
he jack-knifed the boat as he deftly retraced the pathway he'd cleared coming in,
Then pointed the pickup toward what we all knew was the last thing we wanted to see; more signs of - “progress” - with little remaining to relish from --- how it had been.
Less than a mile down the newly paved road, it was obvious that Leo was weeping! “Why do they do this” he choked through his tears, “they've totally ruined the lake!”
Scanning the campgrounds, the condos, motel...the bungalows lining the shore, “We're selling the cabin”, he snarled, “or this is the last trip that I'll ever make!”
“It's 7 a.m., and the Jet-skis are everywhere,” Dad blew a gasket...“so there goes the fishin'! I say the three of us run up to Hayward...see if they've got any cabins for sale.
Somethin' considerably newer than ours...with a much newer fridge...and definitely a shower. I heard - up in Hayward - they go to the marina for their medicines, haircuts, and mail!
“There've got to be places a bit farther north that haven't succumbed to - the “chains”. Places near lakes that are boilin’ with fish, with sleepy cafes, but no airport or mall.
The size of the lake isn't all that important...as long as the place that we buy
is close to the water, and close to a town that’s wonderfully backward and small.
“Leo, ya' see, was given this cabin...by a friend who had neither a sibling - nor kid, and, we, as a - “TRIO”, for more than two decades, had made this our - ‘fishin’ tradition’.
Then...losin' Mathias...one's father -- one's son...for a decade destroyed our resolve, but now...here we are...a “TRIO” again... thanks to you, son...our latest addition!
“We're lucky that Leo still owns it, of course, but this “progress” is breakin' our hearts, and the money we'll get for that musty old shack 'll surprise ya', 'cause...though it's a wreck...
One o' them builders 'll pay us a fortune to just get ahold o' that lot!”
“I couldn't agree more,” I chimed in...“by the way...there're coons livin' under the deck!”
“Ya' know, most the callers,” my father continued, “were only concerned with the price, and no one, according to Leo, had ever requested to see it inside!
Correctly suspecting the “lot” was their target...he turned down a ton of good offers...
beginning the summer we quit going up...'cause a third of our“TRIO” had died.
“I'm certain the reason he never said “Yes” was due to his realization that fam'ly traditions...like fishin' - for us...give fam'lies a chance to - commune.
And, along with communing, it also was prudent to 've ended our ten year hiatus, 'cause all of us knew that that - third of our - “TRIO” - would be fishin' with God fairly soon.”
So...now comprehending the worth of “traditions”...and knowing what bonding with fam'ly can mean...I can assure you there's nothing more crucial than - helping your fam'ly survive,
So...do what you must to create --- and maintain --- a - “tradition” - whenever you can...and you will be amply rewarded...like me --- for the “TRIO” that I helped revive!
Thank you for reading this 3-part monster, I've posted several other story-poems like this.
Copyright © Mark Stellinga | Year Posted 2021