“Blossom on the tree you know how I feel…”
Dateline: The Chesapeake
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”
It took me 45 minutes to write this next sentence:
My best friend, Kevin Short, is done, retiring from the Elites, two more events and he won’t be on the tour anymore.
“It’s time, just time to do something new, a couple new doors opened for me in the industry and I’m going to walk through one of them.”
Let me make this perfectly clear here: Without Kevin Short and his wife Kerry, I wouldn’t be here, none of what I have accomplished over these past 7/8 years would have been possible without them.
To say I’m going to miss them doesn’t come close to how I feel.
I’m thrilled for them.
But I’m busted up.
Kevin Short was:
The first professional angler I ever met.
The first one to take me for a bass boat ride.
The first one I ever saw catch a bass.
The first one to help me get a fishing license.
The first one to hand me a really good rod and reel.
In the beginning of all this, Kevin and Kerry were the first to take me in, they helped me through the first few years, protected me, my safe haven from the naysayers.
When my RV broke down, Kevin fixed it.
When I was sick on the road, Kerry fixed it.
I have had a hundred dinners with them, a hundred breakfasts, drove thousands of miles following them.
How close am I to Kevin Short…I’m the one who gave him the name, K-Pink, in the first fishing story I ever wrote: Diary of a Bassmaster Virgin.
That’s how, close.
“…it's a new dawn…”
“I started in 2004, was one of the original Elites in 2006…”
In his 11 years on the tour he has won 5 Bassmaster events including 2 Elite tournaments.
“…now is the time to go, I want to go out on my own terms…”
Kerry: “He hurts every morning when he gets up, his shoulder…”
And then there is…The Fossil.
“My dad, he calls himself The Fossil, he’s not getting any younger, he’s 88, lives next door, you know when I was just a young kid he drug me all around with him, took care of me, now it’s my turn.”
Just this week Kevin flew home on Thursday to check in on The Fossil and flew back here on Saturday. Kerry: “He spent, what 30 hours with his dad, but he had to see him, had to make sure he was alright.”
When Kevin was 3 years old his mother was killed in a car accident…Kevin was in the car with her, Louie (The Fossil’s real name) is one constant in his life, the other, the rock in his life is his wife, Kerry.
How close am I to Kerry whenever we are out together and we meet someone knew this is how she introduces herself:
“Hi, I’m db’s younger older sister.”
That’s how, close.
“…it's a new day…”
Kerry: “You know db I didn’t really care about going home, but, but now I like my new house a lot.”
Last year a tornado destroyed the Short’s home in Mayflower, Arkansas. I picked Kevin…and Kerry…for my story of the year last year because they came through all that, Kevin missed one tournament AND STILL made the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. Slam dunk story of the year.
In the new house there is a room called, “db’s room,” mainly because I’ve stayed with them so often, but in their old house there was a room called, Michelle’s.
Michelle, their daughter, was killed in a car accident in 2004, Michelle’s room was left just the way she left it that day she drove away from the old house never to come back. This story I wrote explains it all.
I was there at the old house as they picked up rubble.
Was there as the new home was being built.
Knew when I got the last walk through of the place that my younger older sister, was home…and at peace.
Knew she was happy.
Knew then this story was going to be written, just didn’t know when, didn’t know just how soon it would be.
“…it's a new life…”
I have known for months this was Kevin’s last Elite tour, we just held back on the story until all their sponsors were told.
At every event, every dinner, every breakfast I selfishly tried to talk them out of leaving but, Kevin told me about the reality of it all, “People really don’t realize how expensive it is to play this game, you look at the real bottom line of it all and you’re probably spending $75,000 plus a year to play, some of that is met by sponsors but a big chunk comes out of you, yeah we all know that going in but it is still hard to sustain it.”
Way back when Kevin and Kerry told me they would never touch their 401K, their retirement savings to play this game, and like everything else they have told me all these years…they were true to what they said.
I know my friend, I know when he is physically hurting and I see that more and more every tournament. This dude is not a wimp, he was a rock climber, a darn near professional windsurfer, is in great shape, but he’s 53 (I surprised him on his 50th birthday, flew down to his birthday party in Arkansas), you hit those numbers in any sport, things are going to hurt, recovery is going to take longer, if at all, “I’m just ready for what’s next, it’s just time, I’ll fish the Opens, Kerry and I will take time out and fish together, it’s been 11 years, it’s just time for me to move on, move on.”
An Open Thank You Note To:
K-Pink & K2
Thank you, for being my protectors.
Thank you, for being my teachers.
Thank you, for understanding a city guy in the country.
Thank you, for all those great “abentures.”
Thank you, for the tears, for the laughs, the hugs we’ve shared.
Thank you, for the integrity you brought to this sport.
Thank you, for bringing me with you into the Cooks & Kennedy’s families.
Thank you, for the miles of duct tape fixes.
Thank you, for the spicy pickles.
Thank you, for Mexican on Friday dinners.
But most of all, thank you for your friendship.
Thank you, for the love.
Couldn’t have done it without you.
Hardest story I’ve ever written.
“…and I'm feeling good.”
“Friends, they cherish one another’s hopes, they are kind to one another’s dreams”
~Henry David Thoreau