Posted: Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A few days ago I stepped out of my room at the camp on Doyon Rig 141 and walked across the hall into the bathroom. As I walked through the door I turned briefly towards the mirror that is mounted on the wall above the sink to my right. About the time my eyes began to focus on the half asleep object that was being displayed on the mirror in the brightly lighted room I noticed a few shiny gray hairs shining proudly above my left ear!

Wow I thought, I have been sleeping on my right side so much that the sun shinning through my window here at camp has finally started to bleach out my hair. I have noticed that my beard has been gradually turning gray for several years but never noticed any gray hairs at all on my head ‘til a few days ago.

I pondered what else could be the cause of such an ordeal like I was facing. Maybe the lights on the rig and in camp were just to bright or maybe some type of chemical from the rig had splashed up coloring my hair. Maybe I need to change my diet to prevent the attack of the gray. Should I shut the shade on my window each day after I go to bed? Maybe my blood pressure is elevated and causing this to happen? If that is the case and I cut the two gray hairs off will my blood pressure go back down again?

I pondered many things as I tried to track down the real culprit in the coloring of my hair. Perhaps it is stress? Yes, at times my job can be stressful especially if my pits in the rock washer are filling up and I have no trucks there to transfer the mud to. Maybe I’m not getting enough exercise, or perhaps I’m getting too much exercise? I still go to the mountains hunting and live a very active life style so I can’t believe it is not from getting enough exercise.

I have known several guys in my lifetime that had gray hair but they all had one thing in common. They were old! As a child growing up anyone over 30 was “old” in my book. Then it got extended to 40 and finally 50 and well now I think it has jumped up to somewhere’s around 100.

Then as I began to add up all this information and put the numbers together it finally hit me. Yes I am 52 years old but even more importantly I have been in the child raising business for 26 years. On September 15th of this year that number will go to 27. Which will mean it is the 27th year I have been raising children. I will have been raising children more years of my life then I have been without children!!

Perhaps if we took the two gray hairs to a lab some place and put them under a microscope you would see a tiny “27” engraved on them celebrating the 27 years of raising children. The two gray hairs are simply part of my celebration because if they had remained brown I may not have ever noticed them or even thought about this plateau that I have reached in my life.

Wow, 27 years of getting hugs and kisses from snotty nosed little kids and getting all those special Father’s Day cards. Taking your kids and their friends fishing and often times having a whole boat full. Tangled lines, skinned knees, report cards, graduation, and all those phone calls that end with “I love you dad!

Watching your kids or someone else’s kid reel in a fish time after time. Spend hour after hour simply unhooking fish and rebaiting hooks as you have almost magically parked your boat right over a large school of fish. Taking your son to the mountains for the first time hunting Dall sheep or mountain goat.

Then there is the serious side of raising kids....... Like the message you get at 4 am while sleeping at the Steelhead Platform, “John call your cell phone.” You get out of bed and make the longest walk of your life to the phone and hear the news, “John there has been an accident.....”

Often times our children do not always get along or handle things quite like we would like and as parents it is a daily chore to help keep things sorted out, kind of like untangling fishing line only much noisier. Doctors tell us prolonged working in excessively noisy areas can cause hearing damage but I wondered what the effects are on the body after years of excessive child raising?

If you don’t have any gray hair yet and don’t believe my philosophy try taking 8 kids fishing in the boat with you at once with 5 of the 8 under the age of 10. Then do it day after day to get the full effect of it while closely monitoring your hair color. All must have a life jacket, pole, and be strategically placed in your boat so you can help and look after the youngest and least experienced ones.

If my two gray hairs are simply a combination of my age and the 26 years of raising children I guess I will just keep them. However if they really aren’t mine and simply fell off my wife’s head, kindly give them back to her...... See you next week!

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