Dad's Pond

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Published on: Feb. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

Christmas. He kept a rod in the trunk of his car, just in case he could slip away during one of his business trips.

Dad didn't catch a lot of fish, but he had fun. He never caught a big fish, but he continued to try. He had one goal in mind. And that was to catch a lunker bass.

By the time our pond was fishable, Dad was 75. "I'll fish that pond soon," he'd say, but still he waited. Family duties and other obligations still took much of his time.

Finally, the suspense was too much for Bob. "Where are you going?" I asked one day as he walked out of the house, rod in hand.

"I'm going to see if there are any fish in Dad's pond."

We fought about this plan, but Bob won. He cast tentatively near the cattails and caught nothing. He used crankbaits and worms, topwater lures and spinnerbaits, but he caught nothing.

"The pond is a bust," he announced when he returned that evening.

Bob fished the pond a number of times. Eventually, even I fished the pond. Occasionally, we would land an anemic-looking bass not even 12 inches long. To see such fish made us lose even more hope. Thin, pallid and with faded lateral lines, the bass looked more like shiners than largemouths.

In the evening, as we sat in the darkness beneath galaxies of stars, we'd hear bullfrogs croak and think of the pond. "I wonder what went wrong," Bob would say quietly. After a few more years, we rarely spoke of it at all. As a fishing hole it was a failure. But Dad never gave up on it.

"Someday, I'm going to fish my pond," he'd promise.

"There aren't any fish in the pond," Bob would reply, "at least none worth catching."

Two years ago, Mom was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. As she went downhill, Dad's face showed the strain. After Mom died, we took Dad to Kentucky Lake because the whole family knew that the type of rest Dad craved most was the kind he could get while fishing.

Everyone else caught big fish, but Dad didn't.

"I think I'm jinxed," he sighed.

Two weeks after Mom died, Dad announced that he was going to fish the pond.

He was 81 then - a good, long lifetime - but 81 years take their toll. Dad's legs weren't as good as once they were, and he needed cataract surgery. Still, he wanted

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