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Playing for two as planned trip home changes

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POSTED June 3, 2009 2:34 a.m.
I probably would have been packed today — fishing pants, shirts, hooded sweatshirts, boots and gear all waiting to be crammed into my truck for the summer vacation of summer vacations.

The plan was to head north on Interstate 5 Saturday.

When I hit Canada, I’d take a slight right on Maple Leaf 1 for a big looping journey through the Canadian Rockies. The last bit of the drive would be adjacent to the Skeena River which would be pricked by my flies.

No hotels, no plans. Just 1,817 miles, a passport, rods, reels, guns for the bear hunting trip with my dad and this old laptop to type what was supposed to be an unforgettable pilgrimage home.

Of course, I would then have to put my truck on a boat for an eight-hour float to Ketchikan, then a smaller boat for another three-hour drift before driving another 45 minutes to finally reach my rearing grounds, but that’s just confusing. One thousand eight hundred and seventeen miles sounds epic and has a little more punch.

But the reason I write this in the past tense is because of another punch — a number attached to the phrase, “median expectancy.”

Since I could think, I’ve planned and plotted my way in and out of disasters.

The plan was to get back at my brother for teasing, but dad got in the way before Jeff 4.0 could brain him with the stick of rebar.

The plan was to write the cute girl 10 rows up a note, but all I had was a pencil and a portable food-regurgitation receptacle.

The plan was to drive to Alaska this summer, and finish the father-son rite of passage over a black bear hunt.

I’ve always wanted to be a grown up, a man.

That’s why at 7, I wanted to filet halibut with my shirt off like dad even though I couldn’t lift the 20-pound bottom fish.  

That’s why I wanted to go to a college far from Alaska and be forced to make new friends.

That’s why I wanted to have one more hunt with my dad. But when he got sick, plans changed.

Dad was excited for my drive and our hunting trip, and mom had already started baking and freezing cookies in preparation for both of her boys being home. Instead, my brother and I will roam around an empty house, gathering our things and bringing south any artifacts of our previous lives that we wish to keep.

In the meantime, dad and I have bonded in a way I never planned — over high-calorie shakes in the morning. I make them for him, and with each shake it is evident I am not in control of anything outside the little picture and the only plan I can have is planning to live out what’s coming and not hide in the stagnancy of hopelessness.

With some sort of stability established and treatment started, I am still taking Interstate 5 into the land of hockey, Mounties and “eh?”, and if I didn’t write about it, dad would be angry.

So I will have the time of my life this summer, because I know I’m playing for two.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail aklund21@gmail.com.

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