From Darkness to Light

Washington Natl. Cathedral

When all seems dark

and monochrome,

Because you know

he’s not coming home.

You look t’ward the church

with its strong architecture,

Looks dead and dark,

but that’s just a conjecture.

Every spire points one way

revealing Who turns night to day.

Follow the cue and receive the Light

He who lives, conquered the night.

Believe in Him and your hope is renewed.

Look t’ward Heaven with a new attitude.

You will see him again.

You will see him again.

Death is overcome by victorious Life,

Darkness rolled back by glorious Light.

Hope is renewed.

My hope is renewed.

I will see him again.

 

He Taught Us a Thing or Two

I am a teacher by profession. My Frank was a teacher by nature. Anyone who cared to learn, and hung around for a bit, would get lessons about hunting, fishing, adventure, romance, and life.

Let me talk a little about hunting and fishing first.

Frank taught folks how to select the proper gun for the hunting they were doing. Obviously, one would never harvest a mess of squirrels and a white-tail buck with the same caliber rifle. It could be done, but it is better done with the appropriate rifle to maximize the harvest while minimizing animal suffering.

(Yes, a mess is what a group of dead squirrels is called. If you ever had to clean them, you’d understand the term.)

He taught folks how to shoot a gun, or rig a rod and reel,  sharpen a knife,  dress the kill or clean the catch, cut it up, and even cook it. He figured they knew how to do the eating. Though for children, he did teach them how to pick the meat from the bones. Especially certain kinds of bony fish.

He also taught folks how to catch fish. The method depended on what type of fish they were after. Around here it was usually mullet, redfish, or flounder.

For mullet, his favorite method was a cast net. He’d sometimes take the boat, but more often he’d just wade down the creeks at Shired Island, off the sandy point. He could throw a cast net while standing in waist-deep water and it would open perfectly. He put his catch in a mesh bag tied to his waist and they would flow along in his wake. He usually caught enough to give away twenty or so and still have enough for our supper.

Open Castnet

If he wanted to catch a redfish, a rod and reel was his tool of choice. He enjoyed the boat for this kind of fishing. The largest he ever caught was forty inches, nose to tail. He had to release him because the limit is twenty-seven inches. He pretty much tried to abide by the rules. (Don’t laugh. I said he tried.) As he got older and wiser, he tried harder.

Forty inch redfish

Floundering : the act of wading in a creek, spotting a flounder after you bumped into him with your feet, and harvesting said flounder. When Frank went after flounder, it was with a light and a gig at night. Before our children were born, I went with him sometimes. He taught me how to shuffle my feet properly.

He had the pole with the light on the end of it down in the water.  It was pitch black otherwise. No moon. He said it was easier to see the flounder lying on the creek bed on a moonless night.

When he spotted one, he gigged it and put it on the stringer. Just like with mullet, the fish would trail along behind him. Yep, right where I was, holding onto the washtub floating in a truck-tire inner tube carrying the floundering necessities. Every now and then one of those slimy things would touch my bare leg ( I had on knee-length shorts). I’d yelp and try to get up under Frank. He didn’t like that too much. It hindered his floundering.

Another couple went with him one time and she had the same slimy experience, except she reacted differently. The noise she made and the way she climbed up his back, he said later, kind of reminded him of a spider monkey. Her husband was not as tall as Frank. He stood and watched his wife with amazement.

When Frank got home and told me about it, I told him she was just trying to get out of the water. I could empathize. He  appreciated me more after that.

After our children got old enough, Frank took each one of them floundering. They were smart enough to wear blue jeans and Frank’s floundering was a lot more fun for him and them.

So many memories… So many stories to tell.

Enough for now.

I love you and miss you, Frank. You taught me so much.

A Tribute to Frank Pridgeon

Frank and Alpine truck

Frank Pridgeon
April 1950 – Nov 2014

My husband, a modern-day Daniel Boone, was an adventurous spirit. He had been a skilled woodsman since childhood (He roamed the woods around their home and hunted small game successfully with a .22 rifle when he was nine.) We have a newspaper clipping his mom saved showing the time when, as a young boy, he killed a bobcat with a stick. He loved wide open spaces and the adventure that awaited around each curve in the path.

He was an expert at cast-net fishing. He knew how to call up a turkey, and wait on a buck. When he hunted or fished, he brought home supper.

He would eat anything. The more unusual the dish, the better he liked it. His favorite TV show was “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern.

He was a pipefitter with worldwide credentials. His work had taken him from one environmental extreme to another. In the late seventies, he spent a little over a year in the 120 degree heat of the Saudi Arabian desert, and recently worked where the wind chill factor drops to -84 (not exaggerating) on the North Slope of Alaska. (They had to stay inside if the wind chill factor fell below -50.) Where most folks would shrivel, he thrived.

He had followed his dream, his passion. Every day was an adventure. He amazed me with the sacrifices he was willing to make and the risk he was willing to take for our family. And I have always appreciated it. When I would tell him how amazing he was, and how I was so impressed with his courage to go forward no matter the risk, ( -84 degrees, really!?! ) he would look at me with that little smile and say, “If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.”

Why do I tell you all of these things? Because he wouldn’t. He didn’t think his skills were amazing. He just felt ordinary. And sometimes he felt less than ordinary. A teacher told him at one point in his life that he was not smart because he struggled to read.

The truth is, he was smart. He struggled to read because he went to four different schools in first grade. Not good for a solid foundation in reading. His family had to move around to find work. He had to figure the reading thing out himself in spite of teachers who would rather label him than bridge the gaps. He was determined to prove them wrong. And he did. He worked hard, bridged the gaps himself, and graduated in spite of the label.

He not only graduated, but worked and used his skills and talents to further his education and build the credentials he had to be able to go where he went, do what he did, and earn what he earned. What a life!

And he lived this way until November 7, 2014, the day God opened Heaven’s door and welcomed him home.

Frank at Seward

And I also tell you these things because someone may have labeled you incorrectly once (or every day for an entire school year). Learn from this great man : Don’t let a label hold you back. God has gifted you. Go with your passion. Pray and find the destiny He had in mind for you the day you were conceived.

Be someone’s hero.

Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you…

 

At the Atrium

Veteran’s Day is a time to honor those who fought to keep America free. The military has an especially warm place in my heart – my dad was a career Navy man.

The Atrium

Remembering our military and the sacrifices so many have made takes me back to a day when I visited the Atrium at Arlington Cemetery.  Honor, respect, and the scent of great sacrifice permeates the air on those sacred grounds.

I stood on the upper terrace of the Atrium and watched a soldier. He, his petite wife, and toddler son had been in the center of the Atrium and were then walking up the steps to the top of the terrace where I stood.

Gratitude flooded my heart and I felt compelled to speak to him. I took a step  toward him as he arrived on the terrace with his family.

My breath caught as I took in the full scope of this man. His uniform revealed him to be special forces, our elite of fighting men, and I realized that he would be placed in the most dangerous of assignments to keep people like me free. He was someone’s son, this woman’s husband and this little tyke’s dad, yet he risked so much for all of us. I took a deep breath and stepped over to him.

“May I shake your hand?” I asked, my hand extended. His huge hand reached out and engulfed mine. I continued, “Sir, I want to thank you for your service.”

He bent down a little to look me in the eye and with a little smile said, “Yes, Ma’am.”  Such chivalry, such tenderness from this massive military man.

A lump formed in my throat as I looked at his wife and son standing there. Nodding my head at her, then again at the soldier, I felt I was in the presence of greatness. He released my hand and we both walked away. Me, back to my tour group, and he, back to his visit with his family.

I prayed that day, and still do today, that he fights the good fight and comes home safely. Thank God for him and soldiers like him, both men and women, who sacrifice time away from home and family, and risk life and limb, to make sure America remains free.

I am humbled by the thought and deeply grateful.