Hello

Mrs. Lee cheers for her daughter Judy Wong.

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.


"I think about you every night
When I'm here alone
And you're there at home
Hello ..."

Dateline: Aloha

I hold her hand.

Every night.

In my dreams.

A tiny hand.

Soft and new.

All her fingers wrapped around one of mine.

I hold that hand.

Every night.

In my dreams.

Ashley's hand.

My daughter's hand.

It's those tiny hands that took my heart. And will hold it forever.

If there are tiny hands in your dreams, you know what I mean.

If there are old gnarled hands in your dreams, you know what I mean.

If you have ever tickled tiny tummies with your lips, you know what I mean.

If you have ever been rocked to comfort, you know what I mean.

We are all children, growed.

Fathers, mothers, daughters and sons.

Tiny hands, gnarled hands. Hands being held, hands doing the holding.

Hands that lead, hands that followed.

Hands of dreams.

At night.

And in the morning.

My last thought.

My first thought.

My family.

Barb.

Ashley.

Jimmy.

Folks, it's not about the WHAT in our life, it's about the WHO in our life.

Who, is what makes you.

Alone, I stink.

Together, I thrive.

We were created to have whos. A planet filled of whos. A family of whos.

Your whos.

Ashley's hands.

Barb's eyes.

Jimmy's laugh.

My whos.

So when Judy Wong, the 2008 Women's Bassmaster Tour Champion took to this year's stage with a tear in her eye I knew why.

In the crowd, were Judy's whos.

And amongst them ... Judy's mother.

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.

For the first time ever, when Judy looked out from that stage, she looked into her mother's eyes, felt mom holding her hand, felt the rocking chair, felt the kisses on a tiny tummy.

And in that instant Judy Wong was a wife, a mother, a sister, and a child.

Her whos, were complete.

Almost.

Mrs Lee ... Hello

I spoke in English, she listened in Chinese.

Mrs. Lee could say "yes" in English, I couldn't come close to saying "yes" in Chinese.

We understood each other completely.

We both have children.

Doesn't matter that we needed someone else to carry our language back and forth.

We both have children.

We share the same language of the heart.

Mrs. Lee, Hello.

It was a group interview out by a flooded field.

Judy Wong, her husband Glenn, their son Scott and his wife and two children, Judy's sisters, Betty Gee, and Dorothy Yee, a brother-in-law (forgot to ask of who) and Judy's Mom, Mrs. Art Lee.

I would ask Mrs. Lee a question and one of the sisters would then translate, front and back.

These kind of interviews can kill ya. It's like watching a movie backwards, starting a book in the middle, eating dessert first.

It takes me out of the question and answering rhythm, there's no beat to follow in the interview dance.

Just as I was about to bag it, this happened, a gentle tug on my left arm. And I turned to see Mrs. Lee looking up at me, and one of the sisters said this: "She says she worries about Judy all the time. She worries about Judy being out on the road to all the fishing tournaments all by herself."

I never took my eyes off of Mrs. Lee while this was being said, I couldn't, because Mrs. Lee, I worry about my children when they are out there alone too.

No translation needed.

Mrs. Lee, Hello.

This tournament is the first tournament that either sister, or Judy's mom have been able to come to.

Life waits for no tournament. Jobs, kids, school, the possibility of getting some sleep, meals on the run, traffic.

No TiVo for life.

So Judy fished alone.

Betty Gee (the older sister): "I think about Judy all the time. It's unbelievable to see her up on the stage there, and to see just how well she does what she does. How she catches fish is amazing."

Dorothy Lee (possibly the baby sister, not completely sure about that, she is either sister four or five): "I dial up all her tournaments on the internet and watch the results."

Mrs. Lee: "Proud, yes. Very proud, yes."

Scott Wong, an angler, a father, a State Farm insurance guy, a son.

"Mom's phenomenal. And this is the best test of an angler's ability to just go out and fish on a completely level playing field. I fish, I fish as much as I can, and of everything I know Mom has done in this sport, this is the one thing that really impresses me. You've got to know your stuff, and she does."

Glenn Wong: "We really are a close family. This Thanksgiving we have 21 people coming over to the house. For a week. Twenty-one people, db. Twenty-one."

Yep, that's close, if not outright heroic.

Mr. Lee ... Hello

It was a gift, from father, to daughter that started all this.

Art Lee put a rod and reel in his daughter's hands.

Gnarled hands to young hands.

No translation needed.

"My father taught me how to fish ... he would take us all out fishing.

Betty Gee, the older sister, breaks in on Judy.

"Ah ... Judy would be doing all the fishing, catching all the fish, I pretty much just held the net."

From behind me, Dorothy Yee nods her head toward her mother and says, "Mom's really happy for all the success Judy is having, but she'd probably be a lot happier if Judy brought those fish she catches back home for dinner."

Mrs. Lee: "Yes, Yes steam fish, whole fish, I like the head."

Mr. Lee, Hello.

Judy: "Every Saturday before Easter we visit dad."

Art Lee died 36 years ago.

Every Saturday before Easter the whole family meets graveside, for Art Lee.

"On a couple of occasions I have been coming back from tournaments and I have brought my boat with me. Towed it to dad."

I didn't have to ask if dad would have been proud.

All the whos Art Lee left behind, are proud.

"Driving between tournaments I think of my dad a lot, and all that he did for us, for me."

Mr. Lee put the whos there.

Judy's whos.

When Judy stood on that stage and looked out at the crowd, looking back at her where the most important whos of her life.

A husband, a son, a daughter-in-law, two grandkids, two sisters and a brother-in-law. All together at a tournament for the very first time.

Mr. Art Lee though, has been to every one.

Mr. Lee ... Hello.


"...And to feel this way
When I hear you say
Hello."

Hello Again
Neil Diamond

— db

 

Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.

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