Spirit of the Classic

“Cause when I look to the sky…”

Dateline:  Past & Future Classics

And it should be blank.

It should hang in the rafters with all of the other Bassmaster Classic flags.

And it should be blank.

In football they call it the 13th man.

And it should be blank.

It should hang in all future Bassmaster Classics, and it should hang for all the young ones to see; it should hang for all those who attend to see, and it should hang in a spot of honor,

and a light should shine on it,

and right before the first boat enters the arena,

slowly, the light should go dark,

and the arena below should go silent for 30 seconds.

And it should be blank.

The lone, blank flag, that honors all the B.A.S.S members who have passed away,

and who loved this sport, and loved to be here but who now are only here,

in spirit.

“…something tells me you're here with me…”

And it should be blank.

And it should hang for all the Daddies, and it should hang for all the Momma’s, all the Granddaddies and Grandmas who put all the fishing rods in all those hands, who held those tiny hands down dirt paths and tall grass to the small ponds that looked like oceans, who put on the worm and who took off the fish.

And it should be blank.

And it should hang in honor, in memory of the last fishing trip, with Daddy, Momma, Gramps or Me-Maw.

And it should be blank.

And it should hang in honor of the rod left sitting in the corner, the reel left on the workbench in the garage, the tacklebox in the bottom of the closet, the favorite lure left behind that will never be thrown away.

“…And you make everything alright…”

And it should be blank.

For Mikey.

For Red Hair & Freckles

A 21-year-old young man, a young angler who fought so hard to be here at this Classic,

but didn’t make it.

Taken from us by cancer, a disease that has taken so many of us from our loved ones.

And it should be blank.

I will remember the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, not by who was there, but by those not.

I will remember it in honor of Mikey.

I will remember it for Penny Berryman.

I will remember it for Jimmy Johnson.

I will remember it for Ed Singleton.

I will remember it for Charlie Reed.

I will remember it for all those other names known, names unknown, anglers present only in memory, only in our hearts.

“…and when I feel like I'm lost…”

And it should be blank.

But it will be Mikey, Red Hair & Freckles, who will be the spirit of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, in my heart.

It was at this Classic that I met his parents, his younger brother, a family who drove all the way here to thank me, for being kind and caring, to their child.

Their child who I refused to treat as some sick kid, I in fact told him to NEVER become the disease, never become its victim in spirit, told him disease may take our bodies but it will never take our soul.

The first thing I ever said to him in person was exactly this, “Welcome to the monkey house,” and I told him of my health issues, and then he told me of his, I would not have asked, had he not told.

Mikey seemed real interested in my prostate cancer, I told him to make sure he gets his PSA checked, and then the last thing I ever said to him in person was exactly this, “Dude, enjoy peeing while you are young because in about 40 years it is going to be a whole different feeling.”

“…something tells me you're here with me…”

And it should be blank.

For all those, who like Mikey, found peace, found tranquility in fishing.

Wendy Jacobs (Mom):  “Mikey would get his cancer treatment, and it would put him in bed for a day, but the next day he would get up and go fishing; it just made him feel better.”

Tom Jacobs (Dad):  “In the last email you sent him you told him that love was eternal and told Mikey the story of what you told your wife before you went into surgery, that you two had been married 400 times and that if anything bad happened you would come back for her for the 401sttime…”

Wendy:  “That was the last email you sent him, and I have saved it and I read it every day…”

Tom:  “…and look here…the other day this flew out of the forest and sat on our back porch real close, just sat there for 15 minutes looking at us, nothing like that ever happened before and I even got a picture of it sitting there looking in our window, here see…”

Mikey’s dad, Red Hair & Freckles, then hit the gallery app on his phone and scrolled down to the photo and showed it to me,

and perched on the railing of the back porch was a,

red-tailed hawk.

“…and I can always find my way…”

And it should be blank.

But for as long as there are Bassmaster Classics, it should hang in the rafters, because love is eternal.

And it should be blank.

Because someday, 401 will come.

And it should be blank.

Because, if not for them, there would be no Bassmaster Classic.

And it should be blank.

So that one day our children will look up there and see their own personal champion, and say thank you Daddy, Momma, Granddaddy, Me-Maw.

And it should be blank.

So that one day, one the very bottom, in Sharpie, real small I will write on it for you, when no one is looking

this,

Miss You.

“…when you are here.”

“When I Look To The Sky”

Train

Next up, my 7th season with the Elites,

db

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