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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Pay attention to your father’s words

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email letters@bemidjipioneer.com or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.

061822.OP.BP.LETTER.BAKKE
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The words of a father can be encouraging, instructive and humorous. At times they can seem unreasonable, judgmental and cutting, other times they leave you scratching your head. But nothing can replace the words of a loving father.

My father uttered words 40 years ago that would ultimately save my life as an adult. It wasn’t deliberate advice in the face of impending danger, but fatherly advice about how one escapes a rip current in the ocean. It was odd because we lived in Bigfork, Minn., and I had seen neither the Pacific nor Atlantic oceans.

Yet, my father once told me, “If you ever get caught in rip current don’t swim against the current. Swim sideways.”

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A decade later, I took a trip to southern California to visit a college buddy. I visited Venice beach on a cold and windy day. The surf was ferocious, and the swells were tall, but I couldn’t resist. In the water I went!

At some point, I became aware my feet were no longer touching the bottom and the sound of the surf began to fade. In the trough of a swell, I couldn’t see anything except water on both sides. I quickly became disorientated. Upon reaching the top of the next swell, I looked toward what I thought was the beach and saw nothing but ocean.

I fought off panic and was able to get a fix on the beach. The fast-moving rip current carried me the length of a football field out to sea in a matter of seconds. Those standing on the beach looked tiny in the distance. My dad’s words rang in my ears “swim sideways.” I did with everything I had until I was out of the rip current.

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I eventually felt sand under my feet and exhaustedly made my way out of the water. The lifeguard said I was both stupid and lucky to be alive, and that another swimmer had perished in the rough conditions.

Is my father a prophet? No, but his words became wholly relevant when I found myself in mortal danger. His words were all the preparation I needed and were the most valuable treasure I possessed on earth as I escaped the rip current.

Pay attention to your father’s words. Don’t discard them, but rather, store them away as you may need them in your day of trouble. Some day you just may need to swim sideways.

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The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email letters@bemidjipioneer.com or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.