Thursday, September 3, 2009

Leave A Wake To Support Others

Sunday my family and I spent the day at my wife’s brother’s home on Sugar Lake. Well, technically his house is not on the lake, it sits near the shore where the waves created by the wake of boats lap irregularly – but why go through all of that fuss explaining it when most people know what you mean.

I guess that most everyone in Minnesota knows somebody who lives on the lake where they are welcome to hang out on a beautiful summer day. Sunday was one of those days. The weather was almost perfect – partly cloudy with temperatures in the high 60’s.

One of my favorite summer activities is to ride on a boat and cruise the shoreline looking at the lake homes and cabins. I try to arrange my social calendar so that this happens more than once a summer. I am struck by the immense variety of dwellings. They range from the seasonal campers and rustic sixty-year old cabins, to the estates of the very wealthy.

The variety of boats also catches my attention. But instead of embarrassing myself by attempting to impress you with my limited knowledge of the many styles of watercraft, allow me to do so with just one particular type of boat: Wakeboard boats.

Wakeboard boats are designed to displace large amounts of water which results in a very large wake behind the boat. So instead of being strapped into skis, the person being pulled stands or kneels on a “board.” This combination of boat and board allows for tricks and stunts not easily accomplished with a typical ski boat. Sunday I watched a guy “surfing” behind a boat. What I found amazing was that this guy was keeping up to the boat without the use of a rope. I have to get out more.

I have been going up to Sugar Lake for about thirty years. My first time was with my girlfriend to visit her grandparents at their lake cabin. Over those thirty years the ownership of that cabin, which has grown and changed to a year-round home, has passed from father to son twice. During that time my girlfriend became my wife.

Thirty years ago I was in college at St. Cloud State University when I shook Ted Kennedy’s hand. He had just finished delivering a speech to an audience of college students. The next day in my Speech Communication’s class most of us could not recall what the Senator had said, but we defended our shortcomings by saying “the delivery was amazing.”

By now we all know that Ted Kennedy passed away recently. Last week there was an article in Politico titled “The wide wake left by Ted Kennedy’s legacy.” This serious article pointed out the void that will be felt by the passing of a man with forty-seven years in the U.S. senate.

But I think that his sister’s passing is just as significant. Eunice Kennedy Shriver also died this past August. She is credited with founding The Special Olympics in 1968, the same year her brother Robert was killed. The Special Olympics now has over 3 million athletes in 150 countries.

The Kennedys, with John, Bobby, Camelot and all of that were America’s royalty. I think my Mom saved every Life and Look magazine that had a Kennedy on the cover. But now with two more of the family gone that era is slipping away.

Our lives are like boats that create waves which role and roil across the water with an ever-increasing span. We should try to leave a wake that supports others by our presence.

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