"Tell me about something,
tell me about something you believe in…"
Dateline: The Shores of Brigadoon
It is not what we take away,
but what we leave behind.
It is not the footprints,
but the path.
It is not what others tell you,
but what you believe.
It is not the laughter that makes us who we are, it is our tears.
No one else will believe in you, if you don't.
If the universe comes for me, piece by piece, I will be okay, I will survive, until the day it takes my imagination away.
Will be fine, until the day my ability to believe, goes away.
Not like, nor want…believe.
Believe that the yellow hue of buttercups under your chin means you like butter.
Believe that a red nose lights the way for a sack filled sleigh.
Believe that 99 men can chase their dreams from lake to lake throughout America.
Believe it because I have watched them catch,
"…and I believe in the voices out here
telling me to hold on but let go of my fear…"
I knew their tears, before I knew them. I saw her makeup run, before I knew what she was made of.
The wife of Brent Chapman…the 2012 Angler Of The Year.
It was June of 2011…just 14 months ago, when Bobbi Chapman broke down behind the Bassmaster stage.
In a river of dreams, it was a tiny tear that stopped me cold, that haunts me today when I read the opening of what I wrote, just 14 short months ago in the story, "How Fragile We."
"And I stood frozen.
From a whisper, came, "db … "
And I stood frozen.
Until I saw her shaking, and then I took two steps and grabbed her arm and I told her in the softest voice I could bear, "It'll be OK," even though I didn't know what "it" was, or if "it" would in fact, be "OK."
But deep inside of me, this I knew, for many of us standing backstage at the B.A.S.S. weigh-in, how fragile we …
… as the bags holding dreams inch closer to the stage.
… as friends and loved ones grasp the handles of livelihood.
… as the financial future of families are measured by the ounce.
And all I could say, as her arm trembled under my hand, all I could say was, "It'll be OK," as I hoped the tears would stay trapped behind the Costas.
Because as I looked at her and saw the tears run down her face.
I knew, that Bobbi Chapman, was crying for many of us.
How fragile, we."
The Chapman's, Brent and Bobbi, at the time were one tournament away, from being…done.
You could see the end of their dream, from where we stood. To be honest, I thought that if I saw them at all during the 2012 season, it would not be backstage, but up in the stands with the other fans.
Alone in a hotel down south, I wrote their story, tears staining my shirt, tears making puddles between the "V" key and space bar.
As they told me their story, the one thing they kept saying over and over again, was how much they believed in each other, believed in their family.
Believed in God.
I listened, believed some of it. But down deep, thought they were goners.
Believe in each other.
Believe in your family.
In your faith.
Wrote it down, I did, took it to heart, no.
As a reporter I have been witness to the fires before, so close to the flame out as to singe your soul.
Close enough, to see the dreams disappear in the smoke.
I remember I wrote the story, filed it with B.A.S.S, then stepped into the hotel shower, leaned my head onto the wall below the shower head and stayed there until the water cascading down my head and back, went cold.
Hoping that the freezing soap suds would turn my soul cold.
Watching as tears and snot went down the drain.
Along with the Chapman's career.
"…I believe in what I can’t change
in a hard lesson learned
and the strength from my pain…"
Of the Chapman's I learned of faith.
Faith in family and friends.
Faith in yourself.
Faith, in faith.
Two months to the day that I filed that story, I needed every bit of those lessons.
While standing backstage at the B.A.S.S. All-Star my doctor called me, told me a test for prostate cancer, my PSA, came back high, "…high enough to indicate cancer of the prostate."
A week or so later, a biopsy confirmed it. I had cancer growing inside of me.
I write this story of the Chapman's…not for Bobbi, not for Brent.
I write this story of the Chapman's,
I write this story of the Chapman's…for my good friends, the Howells…Robin and Randy, who give so much to others, and ask nothing in return
Faith in each other.
Faith in family.
Faith in, faith.
They run a wrapped boat called, HOPE.
It is wrapped in faith. Faith that the greatness of mankind, the goodness of fellow man can make up for the horrors that some do to others.
My friend Randy lost the last tournament of the regular season about an hour ago by 6 ounces…that comes out to 1 ½ ounces a day.
That's how much a #2 pencil weighs.
That's about how much a slice of white bread weighs.
It was, $12,500 AN OUNCE in the payout column.
Right now, Randy and Robin and their two children, Laker and Oakley sit in their RV…two RV's over from Barb and I in our RV.
Between us, parked in their 5th wheel, are Bobbi and Brent Chapman.
I write this story, not for the Chapmans, but for my friends the Howells…and for the night they will have tonight…and for the nights they will have during the off season.
The nights filled with, what if's.
What could have been, for but 6 ounces…plus one.
Faith in family.
Faith in each other.
Faith, in faith.
Believe that the story of the Chapmans, is your story about to begin.
And I write this story, for the unnamed.
The silent Elites.
All those Elite anglers driving thousands of miles back home.
All those Elite angler driving all those miles and wondering if it will be a one-way trip.
Wondering, if they will be able to come back.
Two good friends of mine will be driving for a couple of days, knowing the may not be back.
I will not name them.
I will give them their dignity.
I will give them their peace.
But I will also give them the story, Chapman.
To those driving and wondering, I know your families.
I know you.
I know your faith in faith.
And I believe in you.
Believe in your talent.
Believe in your soul.
Believe you belong.
And without asking Bobbi, or Brent, I know they believe in you as well, because they know you, they were you.
They are you.
Talent got you here.
Believing in yourself will keep you here.
"…a childhood imagination
has been my salvation
one cloud at a time
lord I’m dreaming…"
I believe in magic.
Not of the sleight of hand,
but the stout of the heart.
A couple nights ago I took a trash bag over to the campground dumpster, then walked down to the boat ramp.
It was Wednesday night, the day before the tournament began on Oneida Lake.
A clear night, I stood on the grass and stuck my head straight back and looked at the stars.
I wondered if the stars, the heavens, were looking back.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw tiny movement, and when I looked back to earth it was the silhouette that I saw first.
A man, and his dog.
Watching not the sky, but the sea in front of them.
"Beautiful night isn't it db."
"It is dude."
And Brent looked to the water, and I looked to the sky.
"Brent dude, been one hell of a 14 months huh."
"You bet db, you bet."
Brent didn't turn to face me, he just held his rescue dog Penny, and looked out over the lake that could bring him the AOY title…or not.
"You ever think 14 months ago that today you would be here."
"I've always believed I would be here."
"Bobbi told me the same thing, said she always believed that someday you would win this thing, win the Classic."
Brent said nothing for a moment.
I never took my eyes off the sky.
"Faith db…faith in family…yourself…in God…you have to believe."
Believe those making the long silent drive home.
It is possible.
To make it.
When you believe in yourself.
And your family.
And the faith in your soul.
That it is not the footprints you leave, but the path you take.
That it is not what you take from the sport, but what it is you leave behind for all those that will follow your path.
In the truth of the buttercup flowers under your chin.
In a red nose and white beard.
And in who looks back at you from inside the mirror.
Walk in the sand with your head in the stars.
As the Chapmans did.
For the stage awaits you,
"…I believe in everything, in everything I’m a believer."
I Believe (in everything)
JJGrey & Mofro
See you in 2013,