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Bittersweet Moment

Joined:
2011/7/6 12:30
From Ephrata, PA
Posts: 6373
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Some of you remember me telling the story of how a co-worker's aging father passed onto me some old fly rods (my trusty Fenwick came from him, the Phillipson I passed onto Sandfly that needed some restoration, a Berkley Parametric, as well as a few rods that he built) and some old reels (Heddon 320 and my Cortland 444 Multiplier). This is the man who got me into fishing with glass! He told me then when he gave me these things that some day he'll be passing on all his equipment to me. I never thought that day would come so soon.

Within the past year, he started showing signs of dimentia. Him and his wife are snowbirds who go to Florida every winter. This past winter, they decided that he was tired of moving and they would live down there til the end of their days. He left all of his fly fishing equipment up here in his daughter's house.

They flew in from Florida yesterday for a visit. Today, my coworker showed up with her father, parked next to my car, and started loading gear into my car. I immediately went outside to talk to them. I knew this was probably the last time I'd ever talk to him again, and I knew for sure that we would never, ever have the chance to fly fish together.

He gave me boxes of tying equipment, a Richardson chest box, another rod and reel (Sage, didn't see what kind of reel was on it), his waders, wading staff, his boots, everything. He told me he never met anyone else who fly fished (apart from his days at Penn State with Milt Eisenhauer and Joe Humphreys), that he never had anyone he thought he'd pass this stuff onto. I told him I was glad to take it, and that it was certainly a bittersweet moment.

I had to go back into the office. There's a picnic table outside where he was sitting. A few coworkers went out to meet him and his wife. When they returned they told me he was sobbing. When they asked him what was wrong, he said, "I just gave my life away."

I'm not quite sure how I could ever pay this forward. The closest thing I can compare it to is when Johnny Cash gave Bob Dylan his guitar. Some gifts are unmeasurable, and it makes me lament the day I may have to do the same thing. I will certainly use all the equipment he gave me. Some think it should sit on a shelf like an icon, but he wants me to fish with it, and I will fish with it. I think for him, it's better to have me take the risk of breaking or lsing the gear by fishing with it than it is to let it sit on a shelf and collect dust. I will honor this man by making sure his gear never collects dust.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 12:50


Re: Bittersweet Moment

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2011/1/15 18:21
Posts: 480
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Wow, thats pretty heavy. I would probably prefer to be buried with my equipment if I didnt have a blood relative to take it up. Scaratch that, die somewhere on a river rod in hand. No doubt the yough would oblige me. That river attempts to kill me half a dozen times a year and Im 25. I can only imagine what it will do when im 75.

Squatch, you gotta get his mailing address and mail him pics of his gear and your future catches. Guy might lose his memory and wonder who the heck this is, but thats one way to "pay" for the gear. Keep him in touch with what he called his life.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 13:26


Re: Bittersweet Moment

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2012/5/4 9:12
From Parkesburg
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Wow, that is bittersweet... would love to get my hands on a Richardson Chest box.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 13:29
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Re: Bittersweet Moment

Joined:
2011/7/6 12:30
From Ephrata, PA
Posts: 6373
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I've been doing that for the past few years. I've been emailing pictures to him of trout and bass that I catch on his rods and reels. I get feedback from his daughter at work like, "Dad said, 'that's a bruiser'" or my favorite, "Dad said, 'it's nice...for a stocked fish'" hahaha!

Heavy indeed, though. Very heavy. I'm glad he was here when it was given to me though. He seemed to recognize me and seemed to be willing to give it up. That was one thing I worried about when I heard his dimentia was getting worse was that he wouldn't recognize me, wouldn't want to give the gear up, etc. I know his daughter was pushing pretty hard for him to get rid of his stuff...I was afraid he'd just be doing it because of that pressure, not having a clue what he was really doing. I'm glad that he recognized me, was able to have a conversation, and showed emotion in it all. That told me that he was in the right mind and knew exactly what he was doing.

I think I'll always feel like it's his equipment, that I'm just a steward of it.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 13:34


Re: Bittersweet Moment

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2008/1/21 13:28
From South Central PA
Posts: 829
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The old man is numbering his days and he's scared. I think you would have been better off keeping this private than sharing on a forum but I'm old fashioned about some things. You made this about you instead of him by doing so, and I find that frankly insensitive and bad form, although your actual intentions were consciously something else.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 13:40


Re: Bittersweet Moment

Joined:
2011/7/6 12:30
From Ephrata, PA
Posts: 6373
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Really?

I was just tryin' to tell a story about the legacy of our sport, and tell about a touching moment.

If the rest of you feel that way, just delete the damn thread.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 13:42


Re: Bittersweet Moment

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2012/8/21 18:22
From Chester County
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Great story squatch, I really enjoyed it, and DGC in what way is he making this thread about himself? Did you even read the OP?

Posted on: 2013/7/18 14:00


Re: Bittersweet Moment

Joined:
2011/7/6 12:30
From Ephrata, PA
Posts: 6373
Online
Yo I seriously don't want to get in a tit-for-tat, offend anyone, or try to make this "about me". Dead serious. It could be a generational thing. I can't relate to what this guy was going through, maybe others on this board can relate to it, or at least are much closer to being able to relate to it than I am. For real, if it's really in bad taste or a bit offensive to the older generation, by all means, delete it. I kind of get, after thinking about it, what DGC is sayin'. I didn't mean to expose this man's weakness in public.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 14:04


Re: Bittersweet Moment

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2006/11/20 10:08
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Sasquatch,
I totally disagree with what DGC said. I think the man paid you a high compliment by giving his gear to you, and I think you are right to use most of it. I think you might want to hold a few things in reserve as mementos.

A woman in my class gave me her late dad's fly tying stuff a couple years ago, and I thought it was one of the nicest compliments I have ever received. Only a little of the material was still salvageable, but the tools were in good shape, some unique. I got my creative granddaughter to put them in a shadowbox for my fly tying room, where I display them. The man was basically a live bait fisherman, but his tools were surprisingly nice for the era they came from (the 1940s I think). I thought her gift was high praise and helps me to connect to the past through her father's tools.

Please take the gent's gift as high praise for your sportsmanship and your love of fly-fishing. I think that is how the gift of his gear is intended, and that is how I read your posting about it. And, I think your sharing of this shows your excitement about receiving the gear while lamenting the gent's passing into dementia. Yes, your feeling: bittersweet.

Rich

Posted on: 2013/7/18 14:16


Re: Bittersweet Moment

Joined:
2009/2/10 16:30
From SE PA
Posts: 4809
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Quote:

The_Sasquatch wrote:
Really?

I was just tryin' to tell a story about the legacy of our sport, and tell about a touching moment.

If the rest of you feel that way, just delete the damn thread.


I enjoyed you're sharing the story. This is a story not just of an elderly gentleman but of your relationship and in a sense the "passing of the guard". You certainly respect the fellow and I'm sure will put the equipment to use as he intended. I don't see any issue with sharing your thoughts on this forum.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 14:24


Re: Bittersweet Moment

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2007/6/20 11:26
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Take the guy fishing before he heads back to FL!

Posted on: 2013/7/18 14:44


Re: Bittersweet Moment

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2010/2/15 19:09
From Ohio
Posts: 734
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I think it's important that people hear this story. It's a touching story and this man is an excellent role model for us all. We owe it to those fly anglers that helped us, to pass the sport down to the next generation. This is the best example of paying it forward in the sport of fly fishing that I've heard about. I think you did a good thing by sharing this story and how it made you feel. The world needs more of the kind of generosity that man showed you and it is perfectly OK for you to express gratitude. You kept the man's identity confidential, you did not expose him, you were respectful in your description of him, and I think you showed him tremendous respect by sharing his story. As I read his story, it was clear that it was about this man's generous act of passing on the sport of fly fishing to the next generation. This was about him, not about you. You did nothing wrong or offensive by sharing this story.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 14:46


Re: Bittersweet Moment

Joined:
2011/7/6 12:30
From Ephrata, PA
Posts: 6373
Online
I wish I could. He can't do it anymore. His daughter and his wife are pretty insistent that he should not be out on the stream anymore. We tried to line it up last Fall before they left for FL, but we just couldn't work the schedules. Now I wish I would have bent over backwards to make it happen.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 14:47


Re: Bittersweet Moment

Joined:
2010/7/18 7:23
From Lansdale
Posts: 970
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Squatch,
You were gifted the equipment out of friendship, kindness and respect from a fellow outdoorsman. You sharing this story is a sign of how much your time with this gentleman means to you. It's a way for you to cope with the loss of a close friend. You did nothing wrong. We can all appreciate how much this story means to both of you. Fish it and remember.....with a smile. He feels you've earned it.

Posted on: 2013/7/18 14:55
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Re: Bittersweet Moment

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2008/3/20 14:09
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I know how you feel. The exact same thing happened to me a year ago. A family friend and avid fly fisherman/hunter gave me his life after battling brain and lung cancer for a few years. Drove down to his house, met him for the first time since I was a youngster, and we just hungout and swapped stories all day. Gave me 4 guns, tons of tying stuff, everything.

It is almost hard to take it because I know I would never want to give someone all my stuff, but he was really adamant in stressing that he was just so happy to see it go to someone who would use it. I just said thankyou as often as possible and shared stories with him which really made it easier for both of us because we shared the same passion. It wasn't even about the material things. They were just there.


One cool thing is that he gave me a watch with a trout on it. I've been wearing it fishing, and I have caught the biggest fish of my life in about 4 different species now. AND he was a big bass fisherman, and had a lot of materials I thought I would never use, but now that I'm bit with the musky bug, I've put everything to use.

Not trying to take from your story, just relating. This is what fishing is all about. Sharing stories, being generous, and most of all, respect. I am still extremely grateful for what this man did, and I am sure you feel the same. I know I will be doing the same when the time comes



Posted on: 2013/7/18 15:45
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Ty
Keystone Fly Fishing



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