Second Chances

Rhonda and I were deep into our Sunday morning routine. Our stop at Starbucks behind us, lattes firmly in hand, we wandered the aisles of Lowe’s picking up pieces large and small for our day’s planned projects. Returning to the truck, I pulled onto Nine Mile Road and headed toward home while we savored our drinks and chatted about this and that.

My phone rang. Fishing around in my pocket, I finally managed to free it from under my seatbelt. I don’t know why I never remember to pull it out before I start driving. I just don’t. Consequently it’s always a small victory when I can free it from bondage and see who’s calling before it goes to voice mail.

It was the broker. The one from The Broker Giveth, And The Broker Taketh Away. The one who had destroyed our dream and danced on its grave just the week before. Huh, I think out loud. “Hello?”

Mr. Sapp?


“This is ______ from _____ ______ Marina.”

“Uh, hi. What’s up?”

“Well, I just wanted you to know that the other buyer rescinded his offer, so the boat is still available if you’re interested.”

While I may have been piloting two tons of steel down a busy two lane Florida highway at a tenth the speed of sound, for the next few seconds the truck was on its own. A school bus with a police escort carrying a Girl Scout troop to a charity breakfast could have pulled out in front of me, and I wouldn’t have seen it. Because my mind was in Tennessee.

Why Tennessee? Because that’s where the boat is. On a lake in Tennessee. A giant freshwater lake where boats live carefree lives far away from the corrosive effects of salt water and harsh Florida sun, which age a beautiful boat like a lifetime of chain smoking.

Now Rhonda’s pretty good at following conversations while only hearing my half. Spending over 34 years together will do that. But a quick glance told me she was confused. “We’ll have a deposit check out to you tomorrow,” I said, and hung up.

“The boat’s still for sale,” I say to her in explanation. “It’s ours if we want it.” I see the same mix of emotion that I just felt play across her face. Equal parts surprise, joy, anxiety. We already had plans to take the next Friday off and head east, check out the Jacksonville area, see what boats are available. But this changes things. We need to get up there, now.

Rhonda’s a planner and thinks on her feet. It’s only about ten minutes back to our house. But by the time we arrived, she had a plan. A grand 1,800 mile three day jaunt that would take us from Pensacola to Tennessee to the east coast and back home in 72 hours. We had four days to prepare. We weren’t taking any chances this time. If it’s meant to be, it’ll be. But you can’t just stand idly by. You have to be ready to cooperate with fate if life gives you a second chance, You have to have a plan…

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