Hang On and Don’t Let Go

One of my favorite past times while attending law school at the University of Wyoming was fishing the small lakes that are located a few miles west of Laramie.  During the winter of 1983, my friend and classmate, David Arnold and I, got up early on a Saturday morning to do some ice fishing at Lake Hattie.  The frigid wind was blowing hard on this particular day.

We parked on dry ground at the East end of the lake and began looking for a good spot to punch a hole in the foot thick ice.   Being poor college students, we could not afford an ice auger so we made our fishing holes by repeatedly smacking the ice with a crowbar.  After finding what we believed would be a good place to fish, we returned to the car to begin hauling our gear.

David owned a nice, large and lightweight cooler that came in handy during our fishing adventures.  He regularly sat on the cooler while waiting for the perch or trout to take our bait.

A strong gust of wind caught the side of David’s cooler as he was carrying it onto the ice. His boots did not provide enough traction for him to stop, so David had two options: 1. Let go of the cooler and watch it blow to Nebraska; or  2. Hang on to the cooler and slide/sail across the East end of the lake and then, after hitting land, walk around the lake and back to the car. I estimated that the second option would be about a 45 minute adventure.

There was nothing I could do to help my friend.    By the time he was halfway across the lake, it was clear to me that David had no intention of letting go of the cooler.  I decided to continue to get the fishing site ready and await David’s return.

David did indeed follow through on the second option.  When he finally got back to the car he wisely stashed the cooler in the car’s trunk.  We enjoyed the remainder of the day catching some nice perch.

There will be times in your mortal life when Satan, like a cold and formidable Wyoming wind, will do his utmost to try to pry from your hands that which is valuable to you.  If Satan is attempting to detach you from your faith or your family, say a prayer, tighten your grip, intensify your resolve, hang on and don’t let go!

When I reflect upon some of the challenges associated with raising a family (i.e. the kind of challenges that might tempt one to let go), my father’s brother, Uncle Arlo, comes to mind.  About 50 years ago my Uncle Orlo’s resolve and resilience as father was severely tested.

Uncle Orlo’s son, Tom (who was 11 at the time) was swinging on a rope across an irrigation ditch when he slipped and fell.  Tom broke his arm.

Uncle Orlo drove Tom to the hospital where his arm was set and placed in a cast.  Less than three hours later, Uncle Orlo found himself consoling his son, Bill (age 14 at the time), who had just broken his left leg when he fell from a bicycle.

While Bill was being treated at the hospital, Uncle Orlo watched two attendants carry in his son, Jim (age 15 at the time) who had just broken his arm while playing wiffle ball at a church gymnasium.  When my Uncle saw Jim he said, “At least he will have company.”

When Uncle Orlo got up that morning I suspect that he never anticipated that, within the next few hours, three of his sons would fracture a limb in three totally separate incidents.

Rather than run for the hills on that challenging day, Uncle Orlo said a few prayers, stood his ground, tightened his grip and fulfilled his fatherly responsibilities.    He made the Good Lord proud.

Jim, Bill and Tom fully recovered from their injuries and each went on to serve a valiant LDS mission.  They have also raised their own children and are now grandfathers.   Like all of God’s children, they were and are worth their father’s effort and resolve.