Kevin Tate | V.P. of Media Productions
The Old Man was puttering around in one of the many barns and outbuildings that lay about his property, and doing so in the fully absorbed way only Old Men can. The last ducks had flown south and the deer season was closed. Quail season was still in play, but there hadn’t been enough quail around to hunt for a long time. It was way too early to think about catfish, which were the Old Man’s specialty, but he was rustling among the gear like we were due to leave at any moment.
I asked him what he was doing.
“Getting ready,” he said, and returned to his chores. I asked him what he had planned and when it was to begin.
“Don’t have anything planned,” he said. “Just getting ready.”
I took a few moments to consider this. To appreciate how unlikely this was, you should know the Old Man notoriously forgot key equipment on almost every outing. Early in our association, in fact, out of frustration as much as a spirit of helpfulness, I made it my business to run through a visual checklist of everything we either could not or would really rather not do without and ensure it was on the boat or truck before we left: Ice chests, ice, trotlines or trotline mending gear, trolling motor battery, fuel, bait, paddle, drain plug and life jackets. At one point or another we’d left one or more of these items at home, some of them more than once, so the notion the Old Man would be preparing this feverishly so far in advance was more than odd.
“You’ve never gotten ready before,” I said, and he acted like this hurt his feelings.
“I was always ready,” he said. “You just didn’t see me get ready because you were in bed asleep.”
This was close enough to the quick to sting, mainly because it was probably true, or might have been if he’d ever gotten ready before, something I was not yet prepared to concede.
“What made you want to get ready today?” I asked.
“When you’re old as me, you can’t let any chances get by because you weren’t ready,” he said. “Something you’d like to do might come up.”
In his youth he’d substituted the Navy for the Boy Scouts, but I had to admit, he made a good case for being prepared, even if it was better late than never.