Cheating Death, Part 3

I recently announced to my co-workers that next year will be my last year as the director of the ESSDACK Learning Centers.  I made the news public well in advance because I think that reduces angst and facilitates the transition for the new person.  I have found such an awesome replacement that my main concern now is the short amount of time that will elapse before the staff is saying, “Terri who?”  As a result of my announcement, I have had numerous e-mails and phone calls wishing me well and expressing surprise and displeasure regarding my early retirement.  To those who were caught off guard by my decision, I simply reminded them of all John’s exploits that indicate he shouldn’t be home, or really anywhere, unsupervised.

Our dogs aren’t the only ones who have close calls.  John has had his share of brushes with the grim reaper including a vehicle accident (Cheating Death, Part II) and a fall through the ice on our pond (How to Save a Life).  Last summer he had his most harrowing experience to date when he was fly fishing in Colorado.  He even admitted several weeks after the incident that he actually thought to himself, “So this is what it feels like right before you die.”

John was fishing a stretch of water in the Arkansas River that was relatively shallow but fairly fast moving.  He wasn’t having much luck so he decided to move to another position downstream.  A misplaced first step caused his back foot to slip and wedge between two rocks.  As he tried to extricate himself, he lost his balance, fell in the water, and was quickly sucked into the current.  His waders filled with water, and he was pulled beneath the surface still clinging to his beloved rod and reel.  He told me it didn’t take long to decide that breathing was a much higher priority item than saving his tackle, but even with both hands free, the speed of the current made it impossible to swim to the surface.  He said he couldn’t accurately estimate how long he was underwater, but he knew he couldn’t hold his breath much longer when the river suddenly widened and the water slowed enough that he was able to break free.  With his head finally above the water, he spotted a branch hanging over the river.  He was able to grab it and pull himself to the shore.

Even though the thought of death had flashed through his mind, John said he never panicked, and he calmly walked back toward the spot where he had fallen.  His two buddies, who were fishing upstream, were completely oblivious to the drama that had just transpired and greeted him quizzically when they saw his wet hair and missing equipment.  I’m not sure he will be going on many more play dates with those two unless they have a chaperone.

I know retirement will be a big adjustment, and I will miss my co-workers tremendously.  As we enter each new phase of life, we feel excited by the experiences and opportunities that await us and saddened by the things we must leave behind.  I think the signs are there telling me this is the right decision because quite honestly, it’s tough to find a babysitter for a 59 year old!

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