I first learned of Dr. Keith’s cancer diagnosis in 2015 when I received a call from a family friend asking me to help Dr. Keith check off his bucket list- a fishing trip with his son. With two phone calls, two boats and the Faux Pas lodge were arranged and immediately ready. Unfortunately, chemo took precedence, and we never made the trip. Dr. Keith passed away 3-1/2 months later at the age of 45. I later learned that his sportsman was Kyle, now age 12, the youngest of his six children.
Last Saturday morning, Kyle and I left the dock at 4am, headed out for our first duck hunt together. Halfway to the lease, with just the two of us under the near full moon, a sudden, overwhelming sense of responsiblity for another man’s son sent chills down my spine and left tears in my eyes. Although I take plenty kids in the outdoors, it’s usually not under these circumstances. As we continued down the bayou and knowing Dr. Keith was watching from above, I responded with 2 q-beam blasts and a wink towards heaven. The q-beam was to let Dr. Keith know I would take care of Kyle like a son of my own, and the wink was to ask him for a little help with the ducks. After all, this has been the slowest South Louisiana duck season of my life.
Anyone that knew Dr. Keith will tell you, he loved God and his Family and lived with the conviction that life was meant to be enjoyed today. As one family friend said, “Of all the things he’d accomplished in his life, there was nothing that gave him more joy than being a dad.” Hence, the “Live Like Keith” magnets that you can still find today on cars all around New Orleans.
There we sat in the blind with decoys set, safety talk finished, and laughing about how imitating a monkey can scare away coyotes. Then it got real quiet as we watched the sunrise wondering if any ducks would show up. What Kyle did not know was how dismal the hunt had been the day before and the day before that.
Then 8 teal appeared in the decoys 15 yards in front of Kyle. Then 2 more right in the same spot, one of which Kyle killed on the first shot. Then 10 more, a single, and after the “satsuma trick” and 2 breakfast bars, 12 more landed so close it made for easy shooting. I later described the hunt to my own sons and friends,who haven’t seen action like that this year, as “magical”.
As the hunt was coming to an end, I realized I had just had the pleasure to “Live Like Keith.” I spent the day with his son, Kyle, a son that he and his wife raised to be cheerful, well-mannered, intelligent, and enthusiastic about each and every day — especially one where Dad was along the whole way.
I enjoyed the hunt, Keith. Thanks for letting me come along.