Brother Art

November 23, 2008
Author: Peter Stolcers, Founder of OneOption

This is the hardest day of my life and I will be saying my final good-byes to my brother in-law and college room mate Art. He fought a long and hard battle with melanoma cancer. This has been a difficult year for many of us and I think this story might shed some light. 25 years ago Art and I marked a day on our calendars. After not seeing each other in a year, the two of us were going to get together and fish. We both looked forward to the day and we knew there would be a lot of reminiscing about our days as college roommates. Art arrived at my cottage in the evening and the laughter began almost the second he stepped out of his car. We talked through the night and before we knew it the sun was coming up. This was nothing new to us, Art and I had pulled many all nighters and some of them even involved studying. Sleep wasn’t a priority because there were fish to catch. We gathered all of our fishing gear and we loaded it into my 14-foot rowboat. For some unexplained reason, the sun was particularly bright that morning and I remember Art’s baseball cap being pulled down so low I could hardly see his nose. As we motored to my favorite fishing hole, I explained the strategy. “I’m going to position the boat away from the pier so that the wind is at our back. Art, there’s no need to be Virgil Ward, so don’t target the pier. Just get it close and let the wind do the work. We don’t want to waste time getting snagged and we will spook the fish if we have to move." I carefully positioned the boat and the conditions were perfect. No sooner had I thrown my line in and I had a fish on. Through the corner of my eye I could see Art standing up in the boat. His first cast nailed the pier and he was snagged. He tried desperately to free his line because he knew a good tongue lashing was moments away. The next thing I remember seeing was the bottom of my boat. As I did a backwards Jacques Cousteau somersault into the water with my pole in my hand I remember thinking... this isn't really happening. The cold morning water had a sobering affect and when I surfaced, it looked like the Titanic had capsized. I saw an oar over here, then I saw an oar over there. There was a life seat here and there was life seat over there. In the distance I spotted my opened tackle box floating upside down in the water. I thought to myself, “Art if you come up, I'm going to drown you myself.” A few seconds later, Art emerged next to me as he swam out from under the boat. With his baseball cap cocked sideways on his head he rushed to speak the first words. He looked at me with his bloodshot eyes and he said, "Stogie - don't let this ruin our day." In an instant I went from wanting to rip his head off to uncontrollable laughter. The boat is capsized, our equipment is as the bottom of the lake and we’re swimming with all of our clothes on… don’t let this ruin our day. To this day, that is one of the funniest statements I've ever heard and we referenced it often throughout our lives. Art and I flipped my boat back over. We gathered what gear was left and we help each other climb aboard. Like two wet rats we motored back to shore. I cherish this fishing trip and Art’s words that day carry special meaning. Sometimes life has unexpected surprises. We need to remember the good and look forward to the future. Together, we can help each other through difficult times. Art, if God asks you to go fishing, don’t stand up in the boat. You will forever be a part of my life and I will not let this ruin our day. . . image . .

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