I’m SO Glad I wasn’t in the office…

I’m SO Glad I wasn’t in the office…

This is one story I’d hope I’d never get to write.

But it’s very important within the context of the work with clients and yes, even time with some of my friends. Its way more important than getting the next new patient, insurance hassles, and yes even the amount of today’s deposit.

My wife and I hung a bird feeder near her dad Al’s window yesterday. He’s 85, and in his last days on earth.

When we went to his shed to look for some screws and a bracket to use, we were both overcome with sadness.
You see, in that shed were things we had given him 25+ years ago, along our extensive journeys together. Tools, a fishing hat, stainless steel rigging knife, and stuff I haven’t seen in years.

How did we do all that stuff together I asked myself?

Then it all comes back. We did it all while I was building an enormous practice, getting a DABCO and an MS while practicing all day, doing many workshops at night, building a race car, running frequent road races and even a marathon.

Deliberately.

Here’s a partial list of times we’ve spent. Together we built and raced a 1970 Mustang, from the ground up. Friends frequently lent a hand. Literally we built it from the frame up, tubbed, roll-cage, engines, rear-end, you name it. We even rented a local garage on weekends complete with lifts and all the impact tools, at one point spending 24 hrs over weekends fixing the car I broke the weekend before. (I personally NEVER saw patients beyond 1245 pm on Fridays in the summer).

I ultimately got sick of towing the “Beast” as I used to call it, so I got one of the locals to rent us his flatbed on weekends. Al and My daughter Caitlin would pile in and drive 135 miles to the track, and back on many a Saturday.

We also had a 29 ft travel trailer, and set up camp each summer in Maine, and 3 years on Cape Cod. Lots of campfires and cold beer. At night, the telescopes would come out, and sometimes we’d be there for hours.

Then, we shared 3 boats together. Over 22 years. Thousands of hours together with friends and family. Of course I still have the latest one, and hopefully a new story one that soon.

We vacationed summers on Nantucket, renting some pretty incredible properties and bringing the entire family.

Every weekend and vacation was an adventure. Even went to Daytona about 18 times in February.

I’ll never forget an early morning Florida pre-fishing trip to a diner, where Al orders a chilidog before 5 AM!  I could barely sip coffee in the cold dark morning and he’s eating like were at a barbeque!

One particular trip, we went red fishing on the Indian River Lagoon. It was so cool; the space program gantries of Cape Kennedy dotted the skyline. We fished with a legendary Guide (and philosopher/writer). We all hit it off really well, hooting and hollering like 5 year-olds. So as a unique experience for us, the Guide parked the boat on one of the islands, so we could fish some totally unprotected water. His only admonishing was to watch for gators. Big ones. If memory serves me well, he did have a handgun.

What a spectacular piece of nature that was. Birds, incredible trees, and alligators.I did manage to hook a fabulous redfish in the isolated lagoon. Meanwhile, Al wanders off on his own without saying a word. For about 20 minutes the guide and I searched for Al. I was at one point seriously wondering how I’d explain his death to my wife!

Then he casually reappears and the guide then quickly puts him back on the boat. Eight plus foot alligators in the warm winter sun getting hungry will do that when you are responsible for a strangers safety.

And then there was Al’s first bluefin tuna in the canyons off Block Island. 12-foot seas and he’s the only one not barfing. Must have been all those days on the aircraft carrier in WWII…

Fortunately, I had great mentors along the way that I really listened to intently so I’m just kind of passing this on. My friends and I paid handsomely for practice building (and life) advice, frequently traveling to be with the best as there was no PPW, and boy are we glad now we actually applied their advice!

Here’s the most important message from all this.

Live, and Practice, by your Design, not default.

Always.

There are after all, no second chances with your life.