In journalism school you are taught to not cross the line.
Don't get close to the people you do stories about.
They are them, and you are a journalist. Separate.
I was out sick that day ... I flunked that course ... journalists will knock on my door and want my degree back.
And they can have it. Come get it. Cause I'm about to break that rule.
A couple weeks ago I did a story with Brody Broderick about how his father, Skip Broderick, had suffered a serious heart attack, and how Brody wanted to go home to be with him but Skip wrote him a note that said, "Keep Fishing."
Yesterday Brody told me that Skip was home from the hospital and doing fine. Today I was going to do a quick follow up.
Not going to happen.
About an hour or so ago, Brody called me to tell me that just after talking to me earlier today he got a call from his sister in Ohio and was told that his father had died.
Skip Broderick passed away today around 2 p.m. while Brody was out fishing the Elites Blue Ridge Brawl at Smith Mountain Lake.
Right now Brody is in his truck heading north and home to Ohio, and to his dad.
He told me that his father came home from the hospital just this past Sunday and was on daily cardiac care. This morning, Skip was in a good mood, "and for some reason wanted to go outside ... it was a beautiful day in Ohio ...so he got in the car with my grandmother, and they went for a ride in the country."
It was during this ride that Skip died.
The last thing Brody tried to tell me was how he felt about not being there when his dad left. Neither one of us could finish the conversation.
Both of us had missed that final goodbye. With dads.
Brody, trust me when I say, you were there.
You were there as a baby, a child, a teenager, a young man, the pride of the man who wrote you the simple note, "Keep fishing."
The man who put the fishing pole in your hands, KNEW, he had done good. Every cast you will ever make will be in his honor.
Those who guide us never leave us. Skip is you, and you are Skip. To be with your dad, look in a mirror, look at your family, look into your children's eyes.
Don't beat yourself up over a physical presence, because as I have learned over these years, that even though you weren't there to hold his hand at the end, you will forever hold him in your heart.
And that my friend, is the only thing that counts.
R.I.P. Skip Broderick.
Don Barone is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association. Other stories of his can be found on Amazon.com. For comments or story ideas, you can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com