My father loved fishing. He fished as a young farmboy, catching "bullheads" to help feed their depression-era family, he fished in the 84th year of his life just months before he passed to the spirit world, and he fished every year in between.
When I was growing up he would often come home weary from a long day of work at the farm implement business he owned, eat a quick supper, and then toss his fishing tackle in the back of the truck and head to one of the nearby lakes for a little fishing before the sun went down. He didn't have any sons, so I was his ever eager and willing fishing buddy, going along more for the ride and to spend time with him than to participate in fishing itself. We didn't have deep conversations, for the most part we sat quietly on the shore waiting for the bobbers to jiggle and signal fish on our lines. We didn't catch a lot of fish, and were happy if we caught any, but I think he went more for the relaxation than the fish. On the way to the lake we always stopped at a little bait store for minnows, and he always bought each of us a candy bar, him choosing a Salted Nut Roll (which is now called a Payday) everytime. Every now and then I buy one, think of him, and smile.
Dad loved going on fishing trips with his friends, both on the Missouri River that divided our state, and in the wilds of Canada up north. We have old home movies of some his Canada fishing trips - precious keepsakes now.
When I was in high school Dad bought a little cabin on one of the lakes, and a boat we could keep in the boathouse for weekend fishing. I remember one evening he and I went up to the cabin for an overnight and he cooked the walleyes we'd caught as soon as we got back to shore, some of the best fish I've ever eaten.
When John and I flew home for my Dad's funeral two years ago, my sisters and I were going thru a few of his things, talking about what we would do with them. No one showed any interest in the fishing gear, so John asked if he could have it, and Dad's tackle box returned home with us on the airplane.
John is headed out on a fishing trip for a few days the week after next and is getting his fishing gear together. Today he sat with Dad's tacklebox, going thru the many old and new lures, line, and an assortment of handtied flies that I remember Dad showing me proudly in later years. It brought back memories of how fascinated I was when young by all those beautifully colored and designed lures. Looking thru the box, I realized the last hands sorting thru the various compartments had been my father's, and it brought tears to my eyes. I chose one lure from the box to keep for my own, and some of them will go along with John on his fishing trip. I know my Dad will be smiling from heaven, and I'm thinking those lures just might bring John good luck. I think I'm going to send a couple of them off to my son in Tennessee too, he mentioned just last week that he was planning to go fishing soon.
Following my Dad's funeral on a bitterly cold day in January, we drove past the lake where he most loved to fish, knowing I would likely never pass this way again in my lifetime. Stopping briefly alongside the deep layer of ice covering the lake, I placed a rose from the spray on Dad's casket on the wind blown snow in his memory and in acknowledgement of how special this place was to him.
Thank you Dad for those good memories... I miss you!