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Stokes: Reflecting on time spent with my father

As I rummaged through the depths of my tackle box, I came across an old fishing lure.

This is easy to do when you have one of everything and two of everything else. The lure somehow had been spared the trials of weak lines, poor knots, snags and lost conquests.

Untouched by years of seclusion, the still bright body of the lure gave me reason to pause. My mind drifted as I remembered that this was the lure my father purchased when we first arrived in Beaufort.

It seems like only yesterday we were comparing lures and lining reels for our next fishing trip. He sat telling stories while I manipulated the time to my advantage. Dad had his favorites and of those, few were shared.

Each time he paused to sip his coffee, I would slip a lure into my tackle box. It was a game played out many times, and after I went to bed he would rearrange things better suited to their rightful owner.

We never caught trophies but we shared the time as father and son, fostering rewards more precious than I realized at the time. Further in the closet I notice his tattered vest and fishing cap, often criticized but never replaced.

The aluminum fishing box he so closely guarded sits on the shelf seemingly abandoned and lost. But the trays within hold more than lures. They cradle special moments in memory.

And, as if on sentry, beside the box stands his dented and worn Thermos. Coleman himself would have been proud of this fatigued bastion of time and trial. The coffee stained cup once securely threaded is now attached by a braided cord. The cord as well as the Thermos was often a subject of ridicule. Dad would smile and say, "It serves it's purpose now don't it?"

Dad was a pioneer hoarder, he looked at possessions as a way of preserving the future. Living through the depression, serving 20-plus years in the military and being a member of the "Greatest Generation" led him to place a somewhat slanted value on ownership.

Being frugal was his nature, and he could manage to do more with far less than any person I ever met. As he grew into a family man and father of seven children, his attention was changed.

I remember him once telling me that, "as the arena of your life changes, so does your responsibility." It was his way of telling me that life isn't where we are going but where we are at.

Most of the quality time my father spent with me was when we were hunting or fishing. The woods and waters of my youth are etched in time and preserved by what remains in sight.

Hard pressed to alter the course that led to my present world, it gives me pride to look at the old, to cradle the unused, and never forget. Memories flow each and every time I pick up a gun or fishing rod.

It's painful, but I am reminded of the time we spent together. It was the beginning of something special and the end of everything else. Although the time borrowed was temporary, the memories will last forever. I miss you, Dad.

And for each there are friends among fathers, there are sons, daughters and grandchildren wishing you a happy Fathers Day.