By Bruce Stambaugh
My late father was a loving, loveable guy. His impulsive actions, however, often masked those admirable traits.
Combined with his affability and innate friendliness, his good intentions sometimes wrote a recipe for embarrassment if not potential disaster. Even when in the wrong, Dad would turn a negative into a positive.
Dad was definitely gung-ho about everything he did in life. With his many interests, he did a lot in his 89 years of living. He went full force, no holds barred. Dad was simply passionate about life.
If he knew this about himself, Dad certainly never acknowledged this reckless abandon approach to life as a fault. The way he lived, he had to have seen this passion as an attribute.
Dad loved sports, especially outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. He also amassed an extensive Indian artifact collection. Dad was involved in many community activities, almost always in leadership positions. The end result was that he made many friends in his lifetime.
Dad’s enthusiasm sometimes got the best of him, and others, too. The story my nephew shared at Dad’s memorial service three and half years ago pretty well summed up my father’s impulsiveness. The story is true with no hyperbole interjected.
Mom and Dad had a cabin on Clendening Lake in southeast Ohio. They loved to host friends and family as frequently as possible. My younger brother and his family attended one such outing.
A favorite activity of Dad’s was to pile everyone onto his pontoon boat for a combination cruise and fishing trip around the 14-mile long lake. The scenery was always enjoyable. The fishing on the other hand often was more bait than catch.
On this particular voyage, Dad had found a spot right across the lake from the cabin. My nephew reported that the fishing was good until my father’s impetuosity intervened.
Dad cherished interacting with people, often to the point of being late for supper or forgetting an appointment altogether. I think he invented the word “relational.”
While my brother and his family were concentrating on catching croppies, Dad noticed another boat on the opposite shore. He thought it looked like the owner of the cabin next to his.
Since Clendening isn’t a very wide lake, it didn’t take too long to reach the spot where Mr. Bennett was fishing. My nephew recalled wondering why his grandfather wasn’t decreasing the pontoon’s speed as they got closer and closer to the south shore.
Seeing the inevitable, my brother motioned for Dad to slow the boat or change coarse. He did neither.
Dad instead responded by yelling a series of “Hellos” to Mr. Bennett, who at first waved back, then tried frantically to wave Dad off.
Dad greeted his neighbor by ramming the pontoon boat into the much smaller bass boat, tipping it and its owner into the murky lake. Fortunately the water was shallow there. But all of Mr. Bennett’s rods, reels, tackle boxes and stringer sank straight to the lake’s bottom.
Dad had finally stopped the pontoon by the time Mr. Bennett had popped up soaking wet. What was my father’s first comment to Mr. Bennett after the crash? An apology? Not exactly.
Dad matter-of-factly hollered, “Hey, Bennett, are you catching anything?”
© Bruce Stambaugh 2013