A few weeks ago a good friend of mine asked for my help on a project he was working on …… and it ended up being one of the most positive life changing experiences I have ever had. This friend of mine is dying of cancer and knows that he only has a few weeks left to live, at most. He wanted me to video tape some messages of him speaking to his family and friends with his final words to be delivered after he was gone and also to write this recap, if I could guarantee that I wouldn’t butcher it up too bad. I really, really wanted to say no; my life has been at the bursting point of stress lately and I didn’t think I could take the raw emotion that this would entail, but a friend is a friend and a dying friend well …. that pretty much trumps any personal worries so I found myself in his hospital room with a video camera in one hand and a big box of Kleenex in the other.
We started off with perhaps the hardest farewell which was to his two boys, one is in college and the other is graduating from high school. I won’t share all of the details but first he thanked them for being such a wonderful part of his life and wanted to let them know that they were the best part of him and the greatest thing in the whole wide world and that they had made the world a special place just by their existence and he promised them that he had lived a great life because of them. He then listed this short list of simple rules to live by:
  • • Look the world in the eye and shake hands like a man
    • Always do what you say you are going to do
    • Live your life as deeply as you can and love how you are living it
    • Do what is “right” and trust your heart and soul to tell you what right is
    • Put your family first
    • Be the man that your true friends know they can trust and count on
    • Become the man you are destined to become … be the best man you can be
    • Dare to love and allow other to love you
    • When the world looks the blackest, be true to yourself and follow your heart and keep doing what you know is right and it will somehow work out

He broke up trying to tell them that he was sorry he would not be there to help them in the next part of their journeys and to see their futures unfold but he promised them that even though he might be gone he would always be there for them to talk to when they needed him and that he knew he was in their hearts and brains for ever and if they asked themselves what advice he could give them ….. they would know his answer in their heart. Lastly he told them which trout stream to scatter his ashes on.

Next we did his message to his wife which will forever be between them but suffice to say they loved each other and that times weren’t always good between them but he would always love her as the mother of his children and his greatest regret was that he couldn’t be the man she deserved.
Finally we did a message for his friends ….. fishing bums one and all …. Friends forged of many, many casts, trails and campfires. He started this message by telling them there better be a toast to his honor at all of their campfires or the haunting would begin. And then he added a list of promises he wanted to make sure that they would work on in his memory.
  • • Go fishing when your heart needs too
    • Give yourself permission to catch fish any way you want too
    • But remember to sometimes fish however you love the most …….even if it isn’t the best way to catch fish
    • Go to streams you have never been too before and truly experience them
    • Fish your favorite river often enough that
    • o You know a few fish by name
      o You can tell a particular pool, riffle or run by the sound of it alone
      o You have your own rock in the middle that is your own private “thinking” place

    • Teach at least one person to fly fish each year
    • Take the time to stop when you have caught “enough” and just listen to the river rolling by
    • When you think you have walked far enough and should start fishing now….. walk fifteen minutes more …… at least
    • Make time to fish with your friends
    • Enjoy a drink and a campfire with your true friends
    • But, enjoy a campfire and a stream by yourself occasionally
    • And lastly enjoy the lights ……. Sunlight, Firelight and Starlight ……… because you never know when they may burn out ………

A better set of ideas to guide a man, I don’t believe I have ever seen so I present them to you with his blessing and hope that they may add a bit of clarity to your world as I know they did to mine.
He lived a good life ….. he fished hard……. he was a good man …… a good friend ….. he loved….. and he was loved… In my book that is the definition of a good life.