Facebook, A Matter of Life and Death

“Gone Fishing! Great way to start the New Year with a little father / son outing.”

That’s what Harry Murray’s Facebook status read on New Year’s day. I was thrilled, and confused. You see, I had heard through the fly fishing grapevine the Harry had passed away. For those of you who do not know, Harry is the Dean of Virginia fly fishing. Although I don’t know Harry personally we have a lot of connections. His fly shop in Edinburg, VA opened in 1962, the year I was born. My grandfather knew Harry and frequented his shop back when it was a pharmacy. (Harry is a pharmacist who ended up in the fly fishing business.) I still have some of Harry’s flies in the old pill bottles he used to pack them in. It was Harry who introduced my good friend Gary Lacey to bamboo rod making. Gary is now one of the best rod makers in the world and taught me to make rods fifteen years or so ago. When I heard that he had passed I couldn’t believe it. I just wasn’t ready for a world without Harry Murray.

It made me think of the morning last year when I answered my phone at eight a.m. To hear my good friend Andrew Bennett, breathless on the other end. He wasn’t really talking and it was clear something was wrong. It spooked me because Andrew is as tough a guy as you are likely to meet. Not easily shaken up. “Are you alright?”