In the Nick of Time

A tribute to a father

Published online: Jul 19, 2012 Feature
Viewed 1145 time(s)

It all started when our dad, Nick Fields, bought a houseboat. We had been looking for just the right one for quite some time, and with the help of Travis Keller from, we found it on June of last year, which was just in the "nick" of time. Working with Keller was great. He really knows boats and he is very professional without being stuffy. We brought it down and settled it into our permanent home at Stardust Marina on Norris Lake in Tennessee. After cleaning and redecorating, stocking and making it our own, the party was on and life was great.

After a couple of weekends, most of the family got together and we were all enjoying the sunny afternoon, some were swimming and some were fishing. Our brother Jeff started out fishing for the small stuff like baby bass, when out in the middle of the water there was a large splash which left a 16-inch ringed ripple in the water. Jeff decided to fish for the granddaddy of them all, the well-known Joe the Carp. After changing from a small hook to a large one and covering it in raw bacon, he fished for awhile, but to no avail.   Shortly after this time, the captain, our dad, decided to fuel up and cruise down the open waters for a grand maiden voyage. It turned out to be grand all right, and just in the "nick" of time.

While at the pumps, I mentioned to my sister that she needed to move the fishing rod that Jeff had been using so no one would hook himself in the ear. So she placed the rod on the deck just in the "nick" of time. Dad had just told us a story about the boat he owned when he was younger and about how it caught on fire and sunk. We all got a laugh out of the fact that he had a boat on the bottom of the lake and a boat on the top of the lake. The laughs died immediately when my son Cole yelled at our dog, a Maltese named Pebbles.  When I looked at her, she had already swallowed the hook covered in bacon all the way up to the sinker. Everyone on the boat was freaked out. I had to just cut the line and pray. We were all just about crazy with worry and sadness. My husband James was already thinking of what he could do to ease my heartbreak when she passed on. She had been my baby for nine years, and she was my little shadow. I prayed the rest of the day that we had gotten to her just in the "nick" of time.

We finished the maiden voyage and all seemed to be going just fine. Pebbles seemed to be holding her own, so when the boat was docked, we cooked supper. Food was served and there was a hush over the crowd while the munching began. My husband went for a second plate and when he scooted his chair up to the table the legs collapsed under him and he fell out backwards. This was the funniest thing of the day. After what we all had been through, this laugh happened just in the "nick" of time.

When supper was finished and cleaned up, we broke out the cards. Card playing is a favorite of the family's and Rook is the game of choice on this boat. We played and laughed for hours. Jeff and I were partners against our brother Steve and our mom Judy.  Mom and Steve are good, but Jeff and I sealed the win just in the "nick" of time.

We spent the night on the boat and returned home on Sunday evening.  Pebbles seemed to still be doing quite well, and we planned to call the vet on Monday morning, when she suddenly had to go out.  I thought we had waited too long at this point, but apparently it was just in the "nick" of time. She cleaned out and was running around very excited that she had done so. When checked, the hook was gleaming in the sun. She had passed the hook with no problems. Dad calls Pebbles "Our Little Stove Pipe" now. The end result was a miracle.

The next weekend was so amazing. My sister Nikki's son, Chase, found two of the smallest baby ducks we had ever seen. They had been abandoned by their mother and were tired and on the verge of drowning. Chase picked them up out of the water just in the "nick" of time.  He became their surrogate dad. They followed him around everywhere. When he went swimming, they went swimming; when he took a nap, they took a nap. It was very touching to see them together. They lived only a couple of days and when they died it was a terrible thing. Chase was so heartbroken.  To get his mind off his bad day, Uncle James took him tubing just in the "nick" of time.

Well, summer is coming to a close very quickly and we have a boat full of memories.  We have shared many laughs and every family needs that. We have also lost a lot under the boat, such as a blackberry phone, camera, sun glasses, coasters, fishing rods, scissors, and paint brushes. We have found out, not in the "nick" of time, that the water is unforgiving. If you drop it, it will sink, never to return, gone forever.

When I got married many years ago I moved to Toledo, Ohio, and lived there for 25 years. My family moved back to Tennessee a year ago, and we have been with dad every step of the way for purchasing the houseboat. We have enjoyed being home with all our family and we know without a shadow of a doubt that it is definitely just in the "nick" of time.

Well, you have made it to the end of our adventures on the houseboat and you should have noticed a common thread throughout this tale. Yes, you guessed it.  The name of our boat, In The "Nick" Of Time, is after our dad.


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