Plenty for which to be Thankful

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PlentyForWhichToBeThankful It’s November and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Many of us have our own family traditions, passed down to us from generations and some of our own started within our immediate family. My daughters favorite is a seafood lasagna. I created it when she was a child; she still requests it way in advance just to be sure it’s on the table. I don’t use lasagna noodles, I replace them with hogfish fillets. I then add the usual fillings. Lobster, stone crab and Key West Pinks (shrimp) sautéed in garlic butter and olive oil with onion, peppers, mushrooms and various spices. Then a combination of six Italian cheeses, a little ricotta and a nice layer of mozzarella! It’s as good as it sounds. I’ve always been thankful for my family, my friends and our health as well as for the profession I was born into and the great people I get to meet from all over the world. My father was in the Air Force in the 1960’s and later earned a living as a commercial airline pilot for Pan American and Delta. He did it all. Starting as a co-pilot on a 727 he moved on to become chief pilot of the 747 then finally the A300 air bus. His career as a pilot is extraordinary to say the least. Two of his favorite sayings are “Aviation has a perfect record, we’ve never left one up there” and “ Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous, but to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect”. Of course as his oldest son I learned how to fly at a young age and enjoyed the learning process and the challenges of more advanced flight training. He was a great instructor. When my Dad wasn’t flying, he was hunting or fishing. The fishing is really what stuck with me. I had my own boat, that I worked for at the age of ten, which was a couple of years earlier than I started flying. So as his oldest son and given the privilege of fishing with Dad, I was required to pull my own age-appropriate seven-year-old weight.
I’VE ALWAYS BEEN THANKFUL FOR MY FAMILY, MY FRIENDS AND OUR HEALTH AS WELL AS FOR THE PROFESSION I WAS BORN INTO…
I worked my way up through the years from bait boy and chief boat washer to tool carrier and “wrench hander-over”. When I was 9, there was a bolt the old man couldn’t get to for a minor repair. I got the call to duty; he needed my small hand to get into this spot and perform the task of removing it. I think it took forever fumbling with the wrench, it was harder than it looked. Dad made it look easy; it was tougher for me. Finally I got it out and with a huge grin on my face, swelling with pride, and a feeling of accomplishment, I was once again demoted to “tool-hander-over” kid. It wasn’t long after that I was able to drive the boats and with increasing mechanical ability came more wheel time. In our house everything was earned; it wasn’t a given. Then one bitter cold morning in November, we were iced in the canal. It was pre-dawn. We were going duck hunting and two inches of ice surrounded the boat and continued down the canal. Again I got the call for perhaps the most important job yet in my young career; I was to drive the boat and use the throttle and shifter too. This was big - Really Big ! I remember thinking, if I screw this up I’ll be washing the boats fooooorevvvveeeer! Once we broke away from the dock I was in control while my Dad kneeled and coached from behind me, I gave it a little gas and pushed the front half of the boat up onto the ice. My Dad, all six foot four and two hundred and fifty pounds of him, then went to the bow, jumped up and down once and we broke through the ice. This went on for twenty minutes or so. We were then in the main channel clear of all but a few pieces of floating ice. As my Dad came back to the stern, I started to move over to let the captain take over. That’s when it happened, the words I’d been waiting years to hear. “You know the way out; you take it and good job getting through the ice”. Holy crap I’m the Captain! I couldn’t believe it. My mind raced ten thousand miles an hour. I should be doing boat boy stuff but now I’m in control. Am I in the right spot? Is this too fast or too slow ? Am I sure I’m in the right part of the channel?
AS MY DAD CAME BACK TO THE STERN, I STARTED TO MOVE OVER TO LET THE CAPTAIN TAKE OVER. THAT’S WHEN IT HAPPENED, THE WORDS I’D BEEN WAITING YEARS TO HEAR. “YOU KNOW THE WAY OUT; YOU TAKE IT AND GOOD JOB GETTING THROUGH THE ICE”.
That summer I had saved enough to buy my own boat with a little help from my Dad. I wasn’t allowed out of Great South Bay and only five miles east or west, but that was a lot of territory. With a little mechanical ability and thorough safety training, I was off. My Dad tried to instill in my young mind that wood channel markers were stuck in the bottom and be sure what side of the marker you should be on. He reminded me to never come to a dock any harder then you want to hit it. Needless to say I had to test those theories. Running aground was my new middle name. Up there the water was always dirty and two foot of visibility was considered great. One had to learn to read the water as we didn’t have gps. I only had a compass. Two summers later we moved to the Keys and my life changed forever. The waters were crystal clear. I could see the fish eat the bait. “Oh my god Mikey, we catch this thing we’re gonna be on Fox 25 in Boston!” My Dad is strict by the book; you earn your way through life. Safety first, short cuts get people hurt or worse. I’m thankful everyday for the way my parents raised me. I’m thankful I still have my Dad. I’m thankful I could pass these things on to my daughter. I’m also extremely thankful for the job my daughter did raising me. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Stop Wishing Go Fishing!


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