Another day that didn’t come
Another day …
That’s what I thought when Pappy asked me last Saturday to help mow his grass.
I had so much to get done — so much that seemed important at the time. My father-in-law’s grass wasn’t that high yet.
It could wait a day or two.
However, when I did crawl on the mower Wednesday evening, my “another day” was anything but another day. Life had taken a drastic turn.
Pappy was gone.
Larry Rothermel died suddenly Wednesday morning after a long battle with kidney and congestive heart failure. As I type this, I still can’t fully grasp that. Maybe after the viewing and funeral it will all become more real. I don’t know if I’m ready for it to be real though.
Perhaps that’s because there were a whole lot of “another days” still uncompleted.
How many times this past spring should I have made more time to go trout fishing with Pappy? It was one of his many outdoors-related passions — fishing and making it a point starting every Christmas to remind me to get my fishing license before the April opener.
Every time I’d see him for the first four months of the year, he’d ask if I got the license. Every year, I’d be scrambling to get it the night before — relying ways too much on that “another day” excuse.
We’d repeat the process all over again when hunting licenses went on sale.
Rabbit season would be coming and he needed his favorite brush-beating dog … also known as his son-in-law.
We had hoped to do so much this fall.
It was his favorite time of year. Penn State and high school football, hunting, trapping and so many more activities that he just absolutely loved. We had talked about trying our hand at fall trout fishing for the first time. He had asked me to show him where the Loyalsock Creek was — a watering hole I had tried a few times while in college.
And this was the fall, I kept telling myself, when I’d go with him on a trapping run. He was an avid trapper for a long time until health problems reduced his ability to check the trap lines regularly.
I had wanted the past couple years to go out with him, to help him check the lines, to share a moment and learn a craft that is passing away with previous generations. Now it is too late.
Unfortunately, good intentions are no match for “another day.”
I really believe Pappy knew that, especially after doctors told him his kidneys were shutting down and he’d need dialysis to stay alive. More time with the grandkids was his main reason for signing on for the dialysis and he savored every extra moment he had with them.
More than hunting, trapping, fishing, football or any other activity – Pappy’s true passion the past several years were his grandchildren.
And they are part of his legacy. In fact, for a simple man, Pappy leaves quite a lot behind. A loving wife, two daughters and their families, a house he built and maintained the best he could over the years, reliable vehicles, enough seasoned firewood for several winters and an impressive, caring group of friends for support. He got as many ducks in a row so that his wife would be as comfortable as possible when his time was up.
Tomorrow for many will just be another Monday — simply another day.
For our family, however, it is the day we’ll be laying to rest someone who knew just how valuable each day really was.
The large, neatly stacked wood pile in his backyard is a testament to that.