Happy birthday, Dad!

Last Thursday night was one of the most fun nights I've had in a while. We celebrated my father's 80th birthday. It's really strange, thinking of my father as 80 years old, because growing up as a child, 80 seemed like such a big number that when I look at him now I don't see an old man, I see a man who is young at heart.

He's also in very good shape for his age. We had all of the family together on my side, from sisters to nephews and cousins — about 25 people all together. I prepared my father a slide show where we flipped back through a bunch of old pictures from before I was born and through when I was a baby. It really made me think back about my dad and how much of an influence he was — and still is — in my life. It was a really special evening. Though my dad didn't fish, he always gave me opportunities to fish.

Regular readers of my blog probably remember a story of the boat that I gave to Little Alton. It was the first boat that my father gave me, when I turned 12. That's a really special piece of my history. Reflecting back on growing up with my dad, if there's one word I can use to describe him it would be selfless. I can never remember someone asking for help from him who didn't get it. He also gave help to plenty of folks who didn't ask for any. Whether it was fixing someone's car or lending them money, he was there.

He's a doctor, and I can remember many Sundays after church when people would come over and he'd fix their car in our driveway. He stopped on the side of the road so many times to help fix folks' flats or help them out when they were stranded. I just remember thinking how much I wanted to be like him when I grew up. He exemplified what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I'm thankful for him passing that legacy on to me, too.

Changing gears, I've never been so excited about going trout fishing. Little Alton and I are getting ready to get on a plane to head to Colorado to check out some trout streams. We're going to be fishing the San Juan River in northern New Mexico and staying just outside of Durango, Colo. We're going to stay with a friend of mine, Pat Curry, at his place. He's one of the guys who was with me when we caught 365 bass in one day.

I promise I'll have some pictures of some nice rainbows and hopefully a big brown, too. Don't worry, I'm not giving up on my bass fishing. I'd just like to try fly fishing for trout. I'm a novice when it comes to the long rod. We'll be fishing with guides, and I told them that they'd have to teach us how to do it. Hopefully, our experience with bass casting will be beneficial to fly fishing.

This will be the first time Little Alton will have had a fly rod in his hand. On another note, I want to say a happy Veterans Day to the men and women in our armed forces. I think I've got it good as a professional fisherman, and all of it would be nothing but a dream without all of their help and sacrifices. Thanks so much, and may God bless each and every one of you all.

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