Last time, I related a story about Eloy, a fishing guide who guided me on a trip fishing for tarpon. Eloy runs a mom-and-pop business, and has been its sole owner for 37 years. In addition, he repairs boat motors. His tan and skin properly reflect his years of work. His hands are dark, broad with strength, and scarred with experience.
Tarpon fishing is a lot of work. You fish in “flats”, still areas just off shore. Once in the area, the motor is turned off. The guide stands on a platform, polling the boat with a long poll that sinks 2 or 3 feet into the sandy bottom of the flats. He must keep a keen eye to watch for the tarpon, then quietly poll over near them. The fisherman might only have a few chances before the fished are spook. Then the process begins again.
So it was with Eloy and I. By 9 a.m., we had caught the bait for the day and we crossed a 45-minute expanse of water. Eloy polled for more than an hour before we got near a school of tarpon. Luckily, we were able to boat and then release a tarpon. The next opportunity took approximately two hours to land and release the second tarpon.
This went on until 3 p.m. We did not even stop for lunch. Eloy was intent on getting me fish.
It was a quiet time, so as not to spook the fish. Movement on the boat was careful, so as not to bang anything against the boat’s bottom. Tarpon are very wary.
Eloy and I talked in hushed tones. He told me of his three sons. The oldest traveled over an hour by boat to work in a government job. He lived in the same house with Eloy. Eloy was proud of him. His middle son was a scuba diver, leading visiting tourists during diving expeditions. The middle son was looking to retire from diving and to join Eloy in the fishing business.
Eloy’s youngest son was a mere teenager; however, he worked for Eloy from 5 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., preparing the boat for the day’s fishing expedition. At 7:30 a.m., he cleaned up, and left for school. On returning from school, he again helped Eloy with his business.
Eloy also talked of his brother and his family. Eloy’s wife babysat each day for his brother’s grandchild. He would see her walk to the boat carrying the grandchild in her arms.
I thought about Eloy on Father’s Day. I thought about how important his family and children were to him. Eloy worked hard, with many hardships, and I could tell he was worried about his sons following such a difficult path.
I assured Eloy his children were going to be just fine. Though they might not be rich with money, I could tell they would be rich with living examples of the ethics of good work, friends and family. I could tell they wanted to follow in Eloy’s footsteps; they admired him so much.
Just ask yourself, do we really need to do more? It seemed like in his own special way, Eloy caught the essence of life.
This last Father’s Day, I spent the day with my children. It had only been just more than a year that I lost both my father and my stepfather. I think that only after a year did I realize how important of an example they set for me, an example not dissimilar to Eloy. I am a lucky person.
I hope I am setting the same example for my children.
Randy Clinkscales founded Clinkscales Elder Law Practice in 1985. He is a 1980 graduate of Washburn Law School and has represented clients at the administrative, county, state and federal levels.