Old. Grumpy. Opinionated. Set in my ways. I may not always be right but I’m never in doubt. Everyone’s entitled to my opinion, but I still have friends.
Friends are people you love who aren’t relatives.
There’s no age line we cross when we start losing friends who pass away, but it’s one of the things that goes faster as we get older.
I’m over 70 and my best fishing buddy and best hunting buddy have both passed away. Close friends are called buddies. They were the closest.
There are many memories and stories that include these 2 buddies. They still bring smiles to my face, but often turn to tears. Poet and author Jim Harrison said in one of his poem’s, “Death steals everything except our stories.” And so it is.
I’ve learned a few things about friends and friendship over the years.
Friends are people you immediately like. You may not know it at the time, but this is the trigger that creates friendships. They may not share your politics or spiritual beliefs, but they like you and you them.
Friends know a lot about each other as time passes. There are stories we tell each other. Experiences we share. Things we do together.
My fishing buddy, Keith Gate, I had known since grade school. He was a simple guy with simple needs. He loved the outdoors. His work and his marriage were subordinated to fishing. He and his wife had 2 kids. They divorced after 10 years.
We fished Lake of the Woods in Northwest Ontario from the south end to the far north end. Walleye, crappie, northern pike, smallies, and especially lake trout. Keith was intent on developing techniques to catch lakers in July and August. And we did. I can’t remember a time when we got skunked.
Keith was warm, easy going, and likeable. I never saw him get mad. I saw his determination when the fish weren’t biting. He never gave up and always seemed to find fish and bring home dinner. He had an infectious smile, an easy going manner, and loved to drink beer and eat what he caught.
He was raised on Lake of the Woods by a father who became well known as one of the best guides on the lake well before WWII. His Mom and Dad had 8 kids, Keith being somewhere in the middle of the brood. One day he took me by his boyhood home. 8 kids and 2 adults in that small house was unbelievable. Maybe that’s where Keith got his kindness and humility from.
One day I got a call from my buddy (another friend) telling me Keith had had a heart attack and by the time the ambulance got him to the hospital (40 miles away) he had passed. I was stunned.
If you’re older I’m sure this has happened to you. It’s a day you’ll always remember. Writing this today is tough and I admit there are some tears. But I am lucky. Not because I am still here, but because I had the pleasure of Keith’s company and friendship for almost 50 years.
Thinking back on all my friends who have passed I do have one big regret. I wish I had asked about their childhood. Maybe asked about their parents and siblings. Maybe about their first dog or cat. Their first time on the lake or in the field. Their first love.
I do this now. Some of my friends probably think I’m nosey. Some that perhaps I’m getting a bit senile. Doesn’t matter. I know a lot more about my friends now than I did. And I only love them more.
Take some time this week and call your old friends. Tell them how special they are. Maybe ask about when they were younger; before you became friends. And thank them for their friendship. You may not have that opportunity tomorrow.
This week we have a newsletter exclusive sale on a plethora of different reels and other fishing gear. Be sure and check out the fantastic savings!
Thank all of you for your friendship, loyalty, and support. We are only here because of you!