Last week I acted as the MC at the Celebration of Life for my cousin, Ron Fabbro. What follows is one of the stories I shared with the celebrants.
Many years ago Ron invited me to join him and some of his friends on a rafting expedition through Hell’s Gate on the Fraser River. There were enough of us to fill a bus on the way up the canyon. There was lots of laughter, joking and good fun, maybe a beer or two. Around Boston Bar, Ron looked down and noticed he had his new shoes on and he forgot to bring old sneakers for what was surely going to be a wet ride. He cursed mildly a few times, but resigned himself to make the best of it.
When we got off of the bus, the guide gave us all a plastic rain shell to help try to keep us dry. When Ron got on board the raft he carefully pulled the shell over his legs, feet and new shoes. He was determined he was going to stay dry!
Well, the ride was rough and wet. Ron was doing very well until we came to this huge eddy. As we crashed through the walls of the whirlpool, Ron lost his grip, slipped out of the raft and was soon caught in the middle of the vortex. Ron’s friend Lyle jumped up to help, and quickly fell over too. Now there were two in the water to be fished out!
I watched Ron tread water like he has never treaded before. In a matter of seconds he got tired and stopped treading. I felt the biggest panic I had yet to experience in my life when I watched as Ron got caught up in the swirling water and was sucked under. He disappeared. I thought I had seen him for the last time. The guide never panicked and in what seemed like forever but was really maybe 4 seconds, the whirlpool shot Ron up out of it and we pulled him aboard.
Once he caught his breath, his first words were, “Shit, my new shoes!”
As I was remembering this story I had an epiphany. This story really is a metaphor for not only Ron’s life, but I would guess most of ours. We get focussed on the little things and miss the huge thing bearing down on us. Once we the whirlpool hits us, we fight it for a while, but soon, for whatever reason, tired, relaxed, we let go and then we come out the other side.
Despite all the whirlpools Ron faced, he was one of the most generous people I know. He never hesitated to make his time and expertise available to friends and family. Ron had a strong sense of fairness and a desire to do the right thing in his business relationships. He showed a dedication to his customers that was more important to him than making money.