It has been quite a while since I have written a Blog post for the site. Things with O'Neill's Fly Fishing have been extremely busy over the past few months. We have partnered with Nor-vise to do several east cost shows. To see a video shot about us and the Nor-vise at the Lancaster show click here. I have done several presentations for local and not so local clubs, private tying lessons, on the water workshops etc. Yes, things for the business have been going great. Personally, not so much.
Many of you may know on February 25th my father passed away. Unfortunately he suffered a massive stroke on the 24th. By the time my family received the results of the third CT scan we were forced to make the decision to cease further medical attention and make him comfortable. 23 hours later I watched my father take his last breath while lying in the hospital bed hooked up to a Morphine drip. My dad was a larger than life, drink like a fish, cuss like a sailor Irishman, and to see what this event reduced him to in a relatively short period of time was humbling. As you can imagine there was a huge outpouring of support from friends and family. We had visitors at my mom's house some nights till 2:00 am. We certainly didn't go hungry as some spetacular food was delivered to the house. The viewing, funeral and reception were beautiful (as beautiful as these things can be). I truly believe my dad would have been proud.
I don't think you can ever really prepare for something like this. It is a strange feeling the days after something like this. There is so much to do, plans to be made and things to attend to you really don't have time to process really what happened, but you get through it because that is what you are supposed to do. What you never hear about is what happens after the smoke clears, things calm down and you are supposed to return to a "normal" life. All of a sudden there are no visitors, no plans to be made, no food to eat and really nothing to do, yet you are left with this huge hole in your life. I am not ashamed to say I had no idea how to deal with this,
"Chicken soup for the soul"
I heard a good friend of mine say that phrase a few years ago while he was going through a similar situation. He loaded up the truck and headed to the mountains to do a little wild Brook Trout fishing. Kind of a hard reset for your body. Here it is almost April of 2017 and I had not been on a Trout river yet this year. This from a guy that usually fishes through the winter months religiously. I decided I was going to pick myself up, get outside and do something I love to do and hopefully in the process give myself a hard reset.
I headed out to my favorite river mid morning on Sunday. I put on some of my dad's favorite Bluegrass music on my phone, Turned the volume up to 25 and started the hour long drive to the river.
The ride out was cathartic. It is funny how an extended amount of windshield time tends to get your head straight. With each new song tons and tons of memories came to me. Some of these songs I haven't heard for over 20 years, but that didn't stop me from singing them (well the parts I could remember anyway). I was totally that crazy dude you see at a red light just wailing away without a care in the world. Buy the time I got to the river I feat like a million pounds had been lifted off of me.
My dad was not really a Trout fisherman, he really was not a fresh water fisherman. I know he never really "got" Fly fishing. "Why in the hell would spend all that money and put in all that time to catch a fish just to put the damn thing back in the water"? I would say "Fly fisherman practice catch and release ', he would say "yeah, well I practice catch and pan fry"! yup, that was the ole' man!
I spent eight cold and wet hours on the water on Sunday. I did manage some fish, but it was not about the fish this day... Am I done being sad, probably not, am I done mourning my father, definitely not. I will say I feel much better after fishing than I did before, hence the title "Chicken soup for the soul" It is funny how fly fishing has that effect on the people that partake in the sport.
From all of this I have learned a few things, and I am going to make a conscious effort to live my life a little differently moving forward. Be a good person, don't sweat the small stuff and above all have fun. It may be cliche, but life really is too short.