It’s humbling to think about all of the people who have influenced your life and helped you get where you are today, wherever that might be. A week or so ago, an event happened that made me stop and think about someone who unknowingly may have altered the course of my life.

My Uncle Jimmy was quick to take me fishing as a kid. Looking back, I can’t possibly imagine why; our fishing trips normally involved me sitting at the back of the boat getting things tangled while he sat at the front untangling everything I was tangling.

“It’s a lot easier to catch fish when your lure’s in the water” he’d say, radiating wisdom. There’s a reason it’s called fishing not catching.

I even remember this one particular time when we were getting ready to put the boat in. My job was to sit in the boat and make sure it didn’t end up in the middle of the lake after he backed the trailer in the water. Somehow, as he was backing down the ramp, I got a rattle trap caught in a tree.

With all the people around I felt like too much of an idiot to yell at him to stop the truck, so by the time he got in the boat he couldn’t figure out why all the line had disappeared from the reel. I offered only a bashful shrug, opting not to attempt explanation.

Right around the same time as I stopped getting fishing invites, he gave me a 400 page book on HTML for Christmas. I guess he figured that computers were more my thing. I quickly read the book cover to cover, and thus began my life as a geek.

More importantly, I realized that given a good how-to book and a little bit of time, I could learn anything.

So you can imagine my concern when I awoke last week to the news that Jimmy and a friend were missing off the coast of Georgia. Soon updates began trickling in with word of a capsized boat and eventual Coast Guard rescue.

Seven days later, sitting in the comfort of his living room, he shared his story.

Part 2: “The story of a Coast Guard rescue and how life can change in an instant.”