Under A Purple Sky

Don Barone

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.

"It's a beautiful morning, to see the sun rise ... "

Dateline: When Comes Morning

I held hands today.

With the sky.

When I needed comfort, the universe came to me.

In a sunrise. with fingers.

That reached out to comfort me.

While my eyes were on the soil, the sky held me.

While the humidity masked the tears on my cheeks, I leaned on the sky.

While I trembled.

The sunrise.

Cradled me.

Under, a purple sky.

" ... it's moments like this that make me wish I could freeze frame time ... "

Every sunrise.

Is another.

Chance.

Chance at life.

Chance at success.

Chance at failure.

Chance at love.

Every sunrise.

Is another.

Chance.

To hold hands.

To kiss your child or grandchild.

To rub under your dog's collar.

Every sunrise.

Is another.

Chance.

To say hello.

To say goodbye.

Under, a purple sky.

" ... sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry ... "

It's not about the fish.

It can't be.

If it was about the fish, we would all still have gills.

It's about life.

We live a 10-pound-test life.

We live between the reel, and the bite.

Life happens in that space.

It's that space wherein lies, desire.

It's that space wherein lies, passion.

It's that space wherein lies, love.

And if you were to ask me what I thought the meaning of life was, I would say, simply ... 10-pound test.

Life is desire.

Life is passion.

Life is love.

Only today, this morning, did I fully get all of this.

It happened when I saw a dear friend of mine, pro angler Terry Baksay.

And he told me, he had cancer.

Under, a purple sky.

" ... some days it's hard to figure out our way in this life ... "

He's 49.

Terry Baksay.

Is.

And he has testicular cancer.

He also has a wife.

Marcie.

And a four-and-a-half-year-old son.

Blake.

And a nine-year-old son.

Lucas.

And a grown son, Chris.

Who is in the armed forces and is about to be deployed to Afghanistan.

And between Terry and myself, there is a young man.

A child, the universe brought our way.

A child abandon by his parents.

A child bounced from foster home to foster home.

A child, who loves to fish.

Javier.

Or as Terry and I call him, Javi.

When I learned of Javi's story, I knew I had to take Javi fishing, but I didn't have anyway to do it.

So I emailed the people, who today are hosting the Bass Federation Nation Eastern Championships, The Connecticut Bass Federation Nation, and told them Javi's story.

And my cell phone rang.

And on it was Terry. The Youth Director. Someone I had never met in my life. And all he said to me was let's do it. Take Javi fishing. "I'll take care of everything."

And he did. Terry got in touch with the state, got Javi out on his boat, several times, got the child involved in the youth fishing tournaments, of which Javi came close to winning this year.

All of this came back today as I stood on the sand and watched the boats launch.

Chasing life, in the guise of a tournament.

And Terry stood there watching as well.

From shore.

Bald from the chemo.

Tired from the pneumonia he had.

Tired from the blood clots he now has in his lungs.

As I stood behind Terry as he watched this morning's take off all I kept hearing inside me was his voice saying, "I'll take care of everything."

And me knowing that no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn't reciprocate that to Terry. I couldn't take care of everything for him.

I was helpless.

On a beach.

Under, a purple sky.

" ... yes it's moments like this that make me wish ... "

Terry told me that he didn't want this story to take away from the tournament, he didn't want any focus on him.

And I shook my head yes, knowing it was a lie.

Every story I have done with Terry has been about someone else.

Not this time.

Not now.

Terry, my friend, this one is about you.

Those guys out there in the boats understand. They understand because of what you do for all of them. But they understand most of all, because of what you do for the children.

The kids in the youth division.

The kids you take out, even while on Chemo, even while you have had a "port" surgically implanted near your shoulder because your veins can't take any more shots.

And you need to know, the children love you for it.

"Terry is a mentor and an idol for me, " Alex Wetherall, the 17-year-old Connecticut State Champion in the youth division, and one of the two boys Terry took the time to take out on his boat today, to pre-fish for the youth regional championship tournament taking place this week.

To pre-fish, life.

"It's huge to me that Terry still took the time to help us, that even with the cancer, he never abandoned me."

Twelve-year-old Michael Toohey, also a Connecticut youth state winner pre-fishing on Terry's boat today, told me this, "Terry has taught me that in tough times you have to just fight on through it, when things don't go your way, if you keep fighting, eventually things will go your way."

" ... yes it's moments like this that make me wish ... "

I want you to hear this, as I heard it.

Most of what Terry told me is here, some is not.

Up until this point in time, Terry had not told many people about what was going on.

Sometimes I took notes.

Sometimes I didn't.

I didn't want my friend to see me shaking.

Here's Terry:

"I had pain on and off in my stomach area for about six months, but I didn't think much about it. Then I was at a tournament in Knoxville, Tenn., and I got hit with a flood of pain, the worst pain I have ever had in my life. Suddenly I developed a 101 fever, I was shaking, nauseous, terrible pain. It was like I was hit by a truck."

Terry pulled out of the tournament, "The first time EVER," and drove by himself, back home to Connnecticut.

By the time I pulled in my driveway, I felt better, so I kind of let it go a little bit, and then bang, it hit me all over again, this time I went straight to my doctor."

His doctor did an exam and sent Terry "across the hall for an ultrasound, and the ultrasound people didn't like what they saw, so they sent me right away for a CAT scan, they also didn't like what they saw, and two days later I was scheduled for a biopsy."

Then came the words where nightmares begin. You have cancer.

"They told me I had testicular cancer and that I needed immediate surgery."

I'm skipping ahead here a bit, not because Terry didn't tell me what happened next, but because, he did, and I just couldn't write it down.

"After surgery it hurt so bad db I couldn't get up from the bed, or a chair, without help. I could barely move."

Two and a half weeks later, Terry started nine weeks of chemotherapy.

"I would go in for five days, eight hours a day, then get two weeks off. I sat there in a lounge chair with this stuff dripping in my arm for eight hours. Marcie could come in to see me, but not the kids because the stuff they were putting into me was too toxic for my children to be around."

More stuff said, more stuff I wasn't able to get myself to write down.

"The nausea was UNBELIEVABLE, throughout the chemo they had me try 21 different pills to help with the nauseous, nothing really helped, even the medical marijuana they prescribed."

Terry saw the look on my face and laughed, "You don't smoke weed, it's a pill db, and you have to keep the marijuana pill in the refrigerator, so every time I opened the frig, there was the marijuana sitting right next to the mayonnaise."

Now get this, while on chemotherapy Terry drove up to Lake Champlain and competed in the Northern Open.

For one day.

"I thought I could do it, but I couldn't. Clumps of hair started falling out while I was there, I was so tired, so exhausted that I couldn't even get my arm to move to reach for my cell phone to tell Chris Bowes (the tournament director) that I couldn't go on. Marcie, who came with me just in case, had to hand the phone to me."

And in doing so, Terry missed out on his dream to fish the Bassmaster Elites.

" ... that I could freeze frame time."

Three weeks removed from having chemo flood his body, I found Terry out on the lake, taking his two state champion youngsters, pre-fishing.

It was only about a day after having a PET Scan to see if cancer was still in his body. We are still waiting for that answer.

Today, the kids compete against their peers from all over New England and Ontario, Canada.

Terry was not about to let them down, even though other people could have taken them out.

Terry was where he was supposed to be

I knew it.

The kids knew it.

Terry knew it.

Under, A Purple Sky.

Alone on a Connecticut beach.

Where no one could hear me.

I looked to the sky.

And the sunrise fingers within.

Asked only one thing.

Please, freeze frame time.

To a time before cancer.

To a time before chemo drips.

For Terry.

And for all those, like Terry.

Please, freeze frame time.

Before the disease.

So they can stand on a beach.

And hold hands.

With the fingers of the sunrise.

Under, A Purple Sky.

Cancer free.

 

 

"Yes it's moments like this that make me wish

I could freeze frame time."

Freeze Frame Time

Brandon Rhyder

 

-- 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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