Fisherman's Lesson

                                By Brad Dunse

               I heard this story of a man and his 17 year old son who took
          to the water in search of some  father-son bonding time, and fish
          action  on the lake  which they could  look back on  having had a
          good days fishing and such unbelievable  stories as having caught
          the big  one and how it got  off just as it was  reeled up to the
          boat.  The last outing was a bit shamefully stressed due to dad's
          impatience birthed out of a real  desire for things to go perfect
          for the  son's father/son fishing  experience, and dad  was bound
          and determined this time to not let anything which didn't go just
          right bother him and spoil the day, so smiles and fun is the menu
          for the day.

               Prior to the day  they had looked forward to all  week, they
          headed  to the  sporting goods  store  and checked  out some  new
          baits,  made some treasured purchases.  Dad, enjoying guiding his
          son into some artful purchases in the sport, and his son spending
          some  of his  hard earned  money  outfitting himself  with a  new
          tackle box, tackle, fish pliers,  knife and all the  necessities,
          an outfitting he can call his own.

               Then the big day  came and fishing and bonding  was all that
          was on the agenda.  These two took a leisure start of  the day as
          they planned on fishing until dusk,  so once the gear was loaded,
          the canoe  atop the  vehicle, electric  trolling motor,  battery,
          fishing poles, tackle loaded and all the fixings for a whale of a
          time were  set and ready,  they headed off  to the lake  about an
          hour and a half away.

               After  arriving  and  getting things  settled,  the trolling
          motor hooked up and raring to go, off they putted nice  and quiet
          in search for lily pads, fallen trees and boat docks  which prize
          bass love to  hang out under.  Time  went on and fishing  was not
          the best but  they caught a few,  only one keeper at  this point,
          but the dad was  just happy with his son having  caught the first
          keeper and spending  time with his  son, and  the son, I'm  sure,
          with the father, but of course son wanted action.   Soon however,
          he found himself in more action than he had hoped for.

               Dad, as he had all day, moved from sitting on the  cooler to
          the seat according to  the direction of the cast and  to give his
          legs a bit  of a break from  the low canoe  seats, this time  had
          found himself in  mid stride when  balance was off with  a slight
          rock and kaploosh.  Before he knew it dad was swimming with first
          thoughts of  wondering how  he would get  himself back up  in the
          canoe, as  canoes, as  just exampled, sometimes  are not  easy to
          stay in let alone  climb back in, but in that  split second which
          he was having that thought, he noticed the canoe was not upright,
          cooler, tackle boxes  floating and the canoe sticking  out of the
          water  like  a  freight  liner   going  down  head  first.    Dad
          immediately started to  call for the son to insure he was OK, and
          the son doing same for the Dad.

               After  a moment or two of commotion and now insured both are
          OK, they hang on a floating cooler, and the half sunk canoe which
          would normally  float but  the  marine battery  and the  trolling
          motor lay  at the bottom at the other  end of the canoe.  Luckily
          the water was less than 16 feet  as a quarter of the canoe  stuck
          out of the water to  help them hang on.  Trying to  negotiate how
          they would get  everything back to the launch an eighth of a mile
          away and through  myriads of  lily pads, they  thought to try  to
          swim  to  shore 50  to  75 feet  away  to the  nearest  shore but
          entering weeds with flailing legs is  not good.  Soon a man  came
          by with a  little boat, what was  left of the gear,  life jackets
          which  were floating next to  the cooler, and  one tackle box was
          tossed in  the man's boat,  and then the  son, then the  dad went
          aboard.   Pulling  up the  canoe enough  to remove  the 70  pound
          marine  battery, and hopefully  a trolling motor  still attached,
          soon they were on their way to the dock area holding on to a half
          filled canoe.

               After  they loaded  all the  stuff back  in the  vehicle and
          started for home, dad began to think about the occurrence.  After
          having thought a good pity party to himself about how he blew it,
          a perfectly good  bonding time with his  son, to show him  a good
          time fishing, and  cause he was so  stupid, such a loser  to flip
          over the canoe, "How would he get his son back on the water now?"
          he thought.  The hour and  a half ride home was pleasant,  slight
          joking, and of course dad was thankful that his son was  not hurt
          or worse by getting caught by the trolling motor and plunged with
          it  to  the bottom  of the  lake, or  not being  able to  get the
          fishing line  off that had  wrapped his son's feet  together when
          they waited for  the boat to  arrive.  All  sort of things  began
          running through his head.

               Then he noticed something.   He noticed something in his son
          that he wondered if the tables were turned, if he, the dad, would
          have reacted the same way.  Dad noticed that although it  was his
          fault for the tipping, the son didn't flinch a bit at the loss of
          most of his tackle  he just bought or his pole or  anything.  The
          son said virtually nothing.  Sure there was a comment in the heat
          of things after  safety was assured and hanging  on to the cooler
          about the expense  of the sport and no more, but no anger and dad
          for having flipped the canoe.  Dad began  to see that had his son
          flipped  it  over, and  once  safety  had  been insured,  he  had
          difficulty  seeing as much grace and  disregard for lost property
          and could see some rebuke  afterwards in attempts to make himself
          feel better after his losses, all at the sons' emotional expense.
          This realization not only hurt intensely  but it also gave a  new
          level of respect  for his son, and for  him, the dad, to  look at
          things much differently.

               Compelled to show  his son that lessons can  be learned even
          in  such  times as  these, he  touted  to his  son, "You  know? I
          learned something today."   And before dad could  tout his lesson
          his son said, "Yeah  I did too.  I learned  that I'm not selfish.
          Some tell  me I'm selfish but all  I could think of  was that you
          were alright.  Nothing else mattered."  Dad was taken back by his
          son's foresight  in pondering  more than his  losses again  but a
          lesson to be learned of integrity and  etc.  Father and son stood
          in agreement  in regard of  personal safety, but dad  admitted to
          his  son that  after the  fact  of all  being OK,  and  safety is
          secured and things  are alright, the his son  taught him a lesson
          in grace and  not blaming dad for  losing his stuff.   He held no
          regard for the loss  to spare the expense of dad's mistake, which
          dad could  honestly say he  doubted that  towards his son  had it
          been  his son's mistake.   A lesson  which brought  dad nearly to
          tears in  thinking of  it, and if  pondering on  it much  more no
          doubt would do just that.

               If you  haven't guessed  by now  this story  is one  I heard
          myself rambling through my head on the  drive back today as I sat
          in soaking  wet clothes and  a gracious son  who I am  very, very
          proud.   And hopefully after  I replace all his  equipment, he'll
          help me pick out a small boat which is flat bottomed and meant to
          fish out of and once again brave the water, and keep the canoeing
          for paddling leisurely.

          Brad Dunse.

          Do not change your theology to accommodate a tragedy.

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