Submitted Date 04/27/2019

This morning, as the song "Where The Boat Leaves From" by Zac Brown Band played, I found myself reminiscing about my Uncle Doug – Doug loved Zac Brown Band. It so happened that, at that moment, I was also trying to find some inspiration for what to write my next piece on. I then remembered a short narrative I had written about a valued memory of him my junior year of high school for an assignment, and have decided to share it with you today. Please pardon any sloppy writing, as I wrote this over a year ago:


"There were no tricks to be played by my family on the first of April 2017. Instead, we stood beside the leaf-littered church curb under a clear, ocean blue sky and watched the hearse pull out onto the road to deliver my uncle to his final resting place. I didn't cry; I hadn't felt the need to for some time. It was a bittersweet moment, though much more bitter than sweet. After proceeding to the site and upon the ceremony's conclusion, bagpipes sung the pleasant melody of "Amazing Grace" as attendees withdrew from the green cemetery, but those weren't the sounds in my head; I silently replayed the now sentimental tunes of Zac Brown Band and Creedence Clearwater Revival. For a moment I was back in Logan Canyon the previous year, cruising through the gorgeous July surroundings, looking at cliffs I wanted to climb and feeling the refreshing mist from waterfalls I wanted to plunge into, as my uncle and I rocked out to such tunes. Doug had picked me up earlier that day for a getaway to Bear Lake with my cousins who had invited us to join them at their rented condo that had extra space, and we had planned to stop to do some kayaking in the canyon on our way there. With the two orange kayaks securely packed in the back of his blue pickup truck, a cooler full of fresh fruit, chips, the sub sandwiches we had just bought from Walmart prior to entering the canyon, and his kindle that he brought everywhere with him plugged into the stereo playing the music for which we both shared a love, we were set for a good time.


After some time winding down the paved canyon road, talking about our writing, sharing amusing anecdotes, and longing for "where the boat leaves from" (compliments of Zac Brown Band,) we turned onto a dirt road that would take us to our kayaking destination. The truck crept along, a sheer drop off to our left, as our surroundings turned from steep canyon walls to full green hills speckled with colorful flowers and patches of petite aspen trees. Upon reaching what seemed to be the highest elevation the road went, we turned from the drop off to our left further into the lush landscape. As I munched on some tropical Mike'n'Ikes that I purchased from Dollar Tree, offering Doug some, we pulled through tree patch as previously described. As I observed some lovely wildflowers beside the dirt road, on came the classic song "Bad Moon Rising". For a minute we sat and simply listened to the music, humming along, but then Doug decided to throw in some humorous wordplay on the original lyrics "there's a bad moon on the rise," instead singing "there's a bathroom on the right!" mimicking John Fogerty's incoherent singing. I thoroughly enjoyed the twist, and in that moment I knew the lyrics would forever be changed to me.


Not much longer and we arrived at a pleasant, isolated little lake named "Tony's Grove". Stepping out of the truck onto the gravel parking area, I contentedly inhaled the fresh mountain air and panned the environment. A paved walkway ran from the parking area down to the bean-shaped lake, two adjoined, rocky hills making for a delightful, pine tree covered backdrop behind. Looking to the opposite side of the lake to the left from the walkway was a shaded grove of trees that led to a beach complete with picnic benches and a fire ring. Looking across the lake to the right from the walkway was a boardwalk leading to a nature walk, but there was no time for nature walking when we could be kayaking. "There's some cola in the back seat," Doug let me know, swinging open the tailgate. I took the cola from under some bags that had been piled atop it, still cool from being shaded, and walked it to the bed of the truck where my uncle opened up a small blue cooler, letting me grab my Italian sub sandwich and bacon macaroni salad that I was excited to taste. We sat on the tailgate, fully immersed in the serenity, and ate our lunches. My macaroni was disappointing, but a single juicy mango I bought still remained to be eaten. I had not initially packed a kitchen knife, so Doug lent me his pocket knife, off of which I ate the dulcet slices of the impeccably ripe fruit.


We finished eating for the time being and packed up the leftovers. "All right," Doug said with his signature optimism, "let's get these kayaks down to the water." We had significant trouble getting the kayaks out from the bed of the truck, their tips being packed tightly into the corners of the shell. After shuffling items around and making other maneuvers for a bit, it took our combined strength to slide the kayaks out and onto the ground, then taking two trips to carry the two kayaks to the shore of the lake, where we placed them in a small embankment a few feet deep. We climbed into the cool, clear, green-tinted water and aboard our kayaks and paddled out onto the open water. The next hour was that of both fun and tranquil relaxation. We paddled by the shore, shadowed by the rocky hills, passed through a swampy area where Doug jokingly warned me about the 'gators, and approached the picnic area where an apparent family gathering was underway. As little boys and girls merrily hopped into their own child-sized kayaks and canoes to enjoy the lake as we were, Doug excitedly told me, "Let's go splash them!" And so we did; the moment was short-lived but memorable.


A matter a time later we had been floating idle, mid-lake, for some time. The families gathered had left, and only Doug and I were in the vicinity. We didn't talk or make any other noise, but just listened to the natural world. My feet were dipped in the refreshing water, the water tempting me to enter fully. I was not tired nor hungry. The city was entirely off my mind, along with all troubles related; in the mountains, there are no troubles. I looked over to Doug, sitting peacefully in his canoe, surely feeling what I was, perhaps even on a more profound level, and despite his pain, at that moment, everything was alright. So when in March of 2017, the following year, he passed away after battling terminal cancer for six years after being given two to live, I didn't cry because I knew that he was now in a paradise of his own, similar to that day of Tony's Grove: worry-free, at peace, and surely listening to some great tunes.


'And when he closed his eyes

Fell into a dream that never dies

And when the thunder comes

You can hear his kick drum in the sky

Feel the rain

Fall from our eyes'

- 'Lances's Song' by Zac Brown Band"


I sure do miss Doug, but I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to go on that trip with him.


(The photo above is the one photo I took at Tony's Grove on that special day)

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  • Ceara 2 years, 5 months ago

    Wow, that was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. What a wonderful memory to have (and a lovely picture!)

  • Kiersten Felch 2 years, 5 months ago

    A good way to pin down a memory you will want to look at again in the future.

  • Miranda Fotia 2 years, 5 months ago

    Great piece! Thanks for sharing your experience.