It wasn’t meant to be easy: a special memorial

Today we are observing Memorial Day in the United States. This holiday is meant to honor military men and women that have served our country and ultimately given their lives for the liberties we enjoy.

We always take some time out to remember lost loved ones that weren't military too and today I wanted to share a couple of those memories with you (and lessons they taught me).

Born on her 4th birthday, Eddie always looked up to his big sister.

My husband lost his only sibling, Laura, half way through his senior year in high school. She and her husband of six months had a carbon monoxide leak in their home and died in their sleep. She was one semester shy of earning her degree in Music Education.

My husband was 17 and understandably, that made a huge impact on him. Honestly, his parents were so absorbed in their own grief that he was left to his own devices in many ways.

A gentleman in their church saw what was going on with this young man and reached out to him. Jim said, “Every March I go out to the lake and I go fishing for a week. I really could use a net man, someone to help me get the big ones in the boat.”

As much as that appealed to Eddie, he had never really been bass fishing. That was a skill unto itself and he was a little nervous.

But he recognized that he needed to get away and he was thrilled at the attention and the care that Jim showed him. So, he went with him that spring break…and every spring break after that for 17 years.

Yep, for 17 years they fished at the same lake. That event was a priority. Jim was very patient with Eddie. He taught him how to cast, he taught him what kind of baits to use, what kinds of rods and reels, how to drive a boat, how to clean fish, how to cook and how to untangle messes that he made. Eddie was a willing student.

‘Poppa Jim' sharing a bowl of ice cream and country wisdom with my son, Mark

Jim really, for lack of a better term, mentored him. He let Eddie be his fishing apprentice. They had a great time and they developed a really amazing relationship. Jim didn’t have any children of his own, so Eddie became a son-figure.

He and Jim became bonded in so many ways. Even after we met and started dating that was one of the tests I had to pass: the Jim Thomas test. Was Jim going to like me? Was he going to approve of me? (And in his mind, he wondered ‘Will I like this girl? Will she let us keep fishing every year?')

Two thumbs up, I passed big and so did Jim. We were buddies. I adored him. I adored him mainly for that need he filled in my husband’s life. My husband is still a devout fisherman and now he’s teaching that to our 4 kids.

Jim had this philosophy and I find myself repeating it a lot…

“If it was easy they’d call it catching, not fishing, and everybody’d be doing it. Where’d be the fun in that?”

I repeat that about my business, I repeat that about my personal goals, I remind myself that about parenting and marriage and so many things.

Jim passed away a few years ago from heart complications (I suspect it just outgrew his chest), but not before he left indelible footprints on our lives and the lives of my family.

For an uneducated country boy who called himself  ‘just a tile-layer' – he taught us so many things.

  1. There’s opportunity in everyone. Eddie was just a 17 year old kid who had just lost his sister. Jim didn’t have to reach out to him and he sure didn’t have to invest 17 years and his fishing vacation with this kid that kept falling out of the boat, tangling up his line, required emergency room visits to remove lures from his fingers and more.
  2. It's worth the wait (and the bait). If you give up easily – you never catch the prize.
  3. It doesn't matter what you don't know – what matters is if you are willing to learn. Eddie didn't have a clue about bass fishing. He had a desire. He was smart enough to NOT try and teach himself. He was a willing student. He hung in there, even when it was hard and he knew that learning from someone with experience was the fastest route to success.

Anything worth having is worth working for and waiting for. After all…if it were easy, where’d be the fun in that?

I'd like to think I'm a fishing guide for business owners. I'd like to think that I'm loving on people and helping them in their journey. I hope so.

Do you have a ‘Jim' in your life? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.


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