I think I would do things differently if I realized it could be the last time I would ever do them.
A couple of Facebook memories in the past week have served as reminders to live more in the moment and stop taking things for granted.
One was as simple as a water slide. Almost every year of my life has included at least one trip to Branson, Mo. for a long weekend or a week’s vacation.
This year will be different. Every year since I was about five years old, my family has taken at least one trip to a water slide on the main strip through the city.
Earlier this year, they closed the water slide and sold the land to another attraction. I am glad I took my sons there each year so they could enjoy some of the same memories I have, but I bet we would have done things a little bit differently if we had known that last year was the last time we would ever get a chance to enjoy it together.
That’s a small thing, but another memory hit me pretty hard.
My dad taught me to filet fish that we caught so they could be cooked for our family. I used to dig worms from our back yard, hop a fence across the street, catch a bunch of bluegills, and filet them for my mom.
As the youngest in the family, being allowed do tasks like cleaning the fish makes you feel like you have arrived.
I remember at one family get together at a private lake house one of my aunts owned, I finished fishing first and I was taking care of my own catch. Since I was taking up the filet table, everyone else just dropped their fish by the table and went on inside leaving me to do theirs as well. I was fileting fish long after dark.
A Facebook memory from five years ago reminded me of the last time I got to filet fish with my dad. My wife and I had gone out fishing with a guide and we kept 10 fish that were between four and six pounds each.
We assumed since we paid for the trip and we were away from home that the guide took care of getting the fish cleaned and ready to eat.
That was an incorrect assumption. Now I had about 45 pounds of White Bass/Striper hybrids in an ice chest and I had to do something with them.
We found a little store on the way back to the cabins where a couple dozen family members were staying for the week and luckily, there was a filet knife on the shelf.
Since I was very young, I have used an electric knife. I had never used the single blade method.
On a bunch of bluegill, that blunted blade might have worked better. But it wasn’t cut out for larger fish.
It was a really hot Arkansas day and that didn’t make the process any easier. Several family members spent a little time keeping me company, but most retreated to the pool or inside an air-conditioned cabin while I completed my task.
Then dad came out.
He sat with me and inspected my work. As the youngest in the family, even at 42-years old, you still have your work inspected.
Dad and I spent more than an hour at the table under a shade tree talking sports, work, church and anything else that people can talk about while removing meat from a fish.
When I finally finished he looked at the filets and talked about how well I had done and how much he looked forward to eating them.
I don’t even like fish. I catch them and clean them for everyone else to enjoy.
The entire family was able to eat those fish for three different meals over the next two days.
Two months later, dad was gone. I am so glad I got to spend that time with him during our last family vacation with him. But I really wish I would have known that would be the last time I would get to.
I would have paid more attention to details. I would have slowed down and enjoyed the time more. The heat and dull knife wouldn’t have bothered me nearly as much.
I wonder how many things I have already done for the last time this year.
I think I need to slow down and enjoy things more and be less bothered by small things.
You just never know when this time will be the last time.