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Gone Fishing

July 5th, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a week fishing near Temagami, Ontario. It was a kind of family trip, just me, my brother Don, and my nephew Trevor.

I can’t remember how it all came about, but I know it started with a late night conversation either in September (at my Dad’s 90th birthday) or in December (after the funeral). We were drinking at the kitchen table, and I started talking about how I wanted to learn how to fish.

Somehow, this turned into an idea; Don could drive from Kansas, pick up Trevor in Sault Ste. Marie, and meet me somewhere in Northern Ontario.

Somehow, this turned into a plan; a basic cabin and boat rental from Lake Herridge Lodge.

We had some sun. We had a lot of rain. And although it took me until THURSDAY, I caught my first real fish; a Walleye. (And it was delicious. Sorry.) I caught my second fish too; a 2.5 pound Bass. And then my third. And my fourth.

To be honest, we caught a lot less than we had hoped. The main lake – Herridge Lake – although well stocked, has too many bait fish. The big guys just wouldn’t bite. We had all of our luck on the chain of back lakes, accessible via 2 10 minute portages through the mud and mosquitos.

But the trip wasn’t exactly about fishing, at least not for me.

Since I was very small, I’ve been worried about family. I’m an only child from my dad and my mom. My dad was married before, and has 4 other children – now mostly in their 60s. These are my brothers and my sister. My nieces and nephews are mostly my age, or thereabouts. Maybe more like cousins, in a way.

I worried about what would happen once Dad was gone. Would I still have this family? Or would it be too tough to stay close without that vital link, especially since they live – like me – all over?

As I grew older, though, I stopped worrying so much. I began to realize that ‘family’ is more about choice than obligation. And, it’s a continuing and renewable choice that has little – if anything – to do with ‘halfs’ and ‘wholes’.

What surprised me most about this trip wasn’t discovering that I was able to catch, clean, cook a fish. Nor discovering that I can put my own worms and minnows on hooks. And it wasn’t discovering that a mosquito hat is a most valuable commodity.

For me, it was discovering so many things about my brother that were just like my Dad. Phrases. Gestures. Even frustrations. It took me aback at times. At times, I held back tears just breathing in how much I missed Dad.

He would have loved to hear about this trip.

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4 Responses to “Gone Fishing”

  1. Karen Says:

    That was one of the best stories I’ve read in a LONG time. Thank you so much for sharing this. Choice vs. obligation really nails it on the head. The fish in the photo looks good, too! 🙂

  2. greta Says:

    all teary, now. Knowing he was looking on, enjoying every precious moment. Hugs to you, dear friend. <3

  3. Kay Says:

    Very teary, I have a pic of my bros, it’s like seeing my dad double. And for better pick a stink!!It is like chocolate for pms only to fish!!

  4. Christine Says:

    I’m sorry you lost your father 🙁

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