All I really wanted to do was nap on the sofa, but Mom was away at a convention and Dad had other ideas.
“Come on son, let’s go catch our dinner, ” he said. My mind said “no” but I heard “ok” come out of my mouth and in just a few minutes we were retrieving tackle and cane poles from the barn. Dad and I spent many hours on the tall banks of Caney Creek throughout my childhood, and I never once could convince him to use a rod and reel.
“Fish just taste better when you hook ’em honest” he argued, so cane pole fishing we went.
Dad had many gifts and I didn’t comprehend or appreciate most of them during his life. One of the finest was the gift of presence. Dad knew how to sit quietly with me and his silence quieted my restless heart.
I have always been full of words, but he would smile and shush me saying “We have to be quiet or the fish won’t bite”.
That afternoon I found the peace I was looking for in my Dad’s company. All of the worry I felt about my job and bills and life in general melted away in the shade of the old oaks and the sounds of the woods.
For a few hours I was ten years old and all I wanted to hear was his sing-song laughter as we pulled another fish from the water.
As the day wound down we packed our gear and headed back to the house. By then I was happy and wanted one thing and that alone – to be with my Dad.
I had a little camera with me and I said, “Dad – show me that big haul we took in” and he laughed his beautiful laugh and held up those pitiful little fish like they were found treasure.
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It was the last time we went fishing before his stroke.
Dad lived a decade longer but he was severely debilitated. In one of the last conversations we had, I asked: “Can I get you anything?”. For just a moment the twinkle returned to his eye and he said “Just an old cane pole”.
Now he’s gone and I’ve learned how to sit silently in the company of my Heavenly Father. He also has the gift of presence. I learned how to gain peace from those times from the master teacher.
Someday, I too will exit this life and by grace, I will join my people in heaven. Scripture tells me there is treasure waiting there and I know just where to find it.
Somewhere there’s an old creek meandering under the shade of tall oak trees.
I’ll find my Dad there waiting with an old cane pole.
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