Lynn J's ADC
When I was a young girl, my family spent a lot of vacation time at my paternal grandparents' cottage. The cottage was on a lake in Northern Ontario, in a region known for pickerel (walleye) fishing. My dad was intent on teaching me to fish during our visits. He and his dad took me fishing nearly every day, usually around dusk when my mom and my grandmother were indoors preparing our dinner . I hated fishing and I used to complain every time, or cry and beg them not to take me. I wanted to stay indoors at the cottage and help make dinner with 'the girls' (my mom and my grandmother), instead of going on the boat. My dad said that I already knew how to cook, so I should learn a new skill like fishing. He thought I spent too much time indoors and that I should challenge myself with outdoor interests. I would sulk and be very rude about it, to the point that I dreaded visiting my grandparents' home at all. My dad and I were always very close, but the power-struggle about fishing led to our only arguments ... which I regret to this day.
My disdain for fishing had two main reasons: I refuse to touch a worm or a fish! I have had a lifelong phobia of worms. I have panic attacks even looking at them in books or magazines. I refuse to touch one and the thought of piercing one onto a hook made me almost physically sick. Now you can see why I am more of an 'indoor' girl. Ha ha. My dad knew I was terrified of worms, so when I 'had to' go fishing he would let me sit in the front of the boat with my back toward the worm bucket, facing away from him and my grandpa because they had worms on their lines, too. My dad would put a worm on my hook for me while my back was turned, and I would drop it into the water while the boat trolled.... trying as hard as possible not to even catch a glimpse of the worm. Then, heaven forbid if I caught a fish ... I wouldn't touch the fish, either. I'm not afraid of fish, but I won't touch one. I'm pretty squeamish about the poor thing dangling injured on a hook. I would always get my father to remove the fish for me, whether we threw it back into the lake or kept it. The experience was like a living nightmare for me. Dad persevered and kept trying, day after day, summer after summer. I never did touch a worm or a fish. We had a lot of arguments but he didn't stop trying to make me feel confident. As I got a little older I would tolerate about half an hour of fishing before I'd beg to stop fishing and go ashore. At that point my dad would say we could go ashore after I cast the fishing line '5 more times'. I would cast 5 more times, then he always kept his promise by taking me back to shore.
My grandparents sold the cottage (whew...) and eventually passed away. My dad passed away 10 years ago. My dad and I were very close and I've mourned his passing considerably. I've always felt a bit guilty looking back on the fishing experience. I wish I had one more chance to fish with him and my grandfather. I see now that he was trying to build memories even though I was too young to recognize the sentiment. I would do anything to go back in time. There's so much I'd like to discuss with them. What things did my dad and my grandpa talk about on the boat? I'd love to know. What questions could I have asked them? What jokes could we have shared? I have no recollection of the conversations, I only remember hating it. I hope my dad wasn't too disappointed in his grouchy, ungrateful daughter.
This week I had the opportunity to visit a friend's cottage, within an hour of where my grandparents lived. My friend spent a lot of time fishing but I kept refusing, and preferred to stay inside. I felt guilty about not fishing, and it brought back all those memories, which made the thought of fishing even more painful. It was hard not to cry watching my friend fish alone but the whole concept was just too emotional.
My last day at the cottage happened to be my birthday. My friend went out to town and I stayed behind to pack my bags. It was late afternoon, nearly dusk. There was a fishing rod leaning against the shed with an empty hook on the line, no worm and no lure. Feeling nostalgic I finally took the fishing rod and sat on a chair at the end of my friend's dock, facing out to the water. It reminded me of sitting at the front of the boat with my dad and grandfather behind me. How I wish I hadn't ignored them. They must have thought I was such a rude, belligerent kid. I'm still afraid of worms and I don't even know where my friend keeps the 'worm bucket' but I wanted to show my dad that I remember his loving efforts to help me overcome fear. I cast the line out into the water several times, using that empty hook but smiling nonetheless. Of course I didn't catch anything.
After half an hour I decided to stop when I heard my dad's voice saying 'five more times', like he did when I was little. It sounded very real like he was right there with me. I assumed it was just a vivid memory of his voice but it was very nice to hear. I cast out one, two, three, then four times in his honor. On the fourth cast my empty hook got caught by some rocks and I had to drag it in along the water's edge. I thought I had caught some grass or marsh on the hook but when I reeled in closer I discovered (to my horror...) that I had SOMEHOW managed to catch a worm. I kid you not. I have no idea how this happened and I've never heard of anyone catching a worm before; I don't even think they live in the water??? But, there was a writhing worm speared right onto my hook along with a small tuft of weed from the lake. I nearly threw my rod in fear but I kept my cool and laughed. Maybe it was my dad putting the worm on my hook again, nearly 38 years since I had last fished. I realized I still needed to cast the line one more time because he always said '5 more times before we stop', and that was my fourth time. It would be a good way to knock the worm off into the water so that I wouldn't have to see it again.
I cast out the fifth time and prayed that the worm would fall off by itself so that I wouldn't have to reel it in again. What would I do to get rid of the worm? I decided that if it didn't fall off on its own I would have to get scissors and cut a long length of the line so it could drop into the lake with the fishing line, hook and all ... without me getting close to the worm. Suddenly there was a tug on my line and a big fish started to thrash around. I'd caught something! It took me a while to reel the fish in and all the time I was laughing out loud. Now, how the heck would I get the fish off without touching it??? That was supposed to be my dad's job! What if the worm was visible in its mouth? What if it was really injured and speared through the eye or something?? I had no idea what to do but I reeled it in. It was a pickerel (my dad's preferred fish) and it was caught tightly with three barbs of the hook far back in its mouth. I wished my dad could be there to remove the fish for me, like he had always done before. I decided I would walk toward the cottage and leave the rod on the ground with the fish still caught on the hook. Poor thing. It would die. I wanted to let it free but I didn't know how. There was nowhere to anchor the rod and keep the fish in water so it could live. It would have to die because I never let my dad teach me how to unhook it. I felt so guilty. Perhaps my friend would be home soon enough to remove the fish and prepare it for her own dinner after I left? I felt childish and embarrassed by remembering how stubborn I had been with my dad. I wanted to hug him and say 'sorry' for being so stubborn as a child. I wished I had allowed him to teach me more: how to remove the fish, how to clean a fish, how to cook a fish.... He tried so hard. I was almost in tears. Suddenly, as I dragged the fish onto the grass, it came loose from the hook all by itself. How it came loose from three barbed hooks, back far in its mouth, I will never know. The fish flip-flopped around for a moment and was able to bounce back into the lake, as I had wished.
I am completely shocked. How could I catch and release a big fish, starting with an empty hook? How did a worm 'appear' on my hook as if from magic? How did I manage to catch a pickerel when my friend says they are very, very rare in her lake? How did the fish free itself from three deep barbs? I can scarcely believe this happened especially after I cast out 'five more times' like my dad would say... on my birthday, and at dusk too.
believe this was a magic gift of intervention by my father to show he is still
with me, and that I should not be afraid of life's challenges.
Was this experience difficult to express in words? No
Did you ONLY sense an awareness of presence of the deceased without actually seeing, hearing, feeling or smelling them? Yes
Did you hear the deceased or hear something associated with the deceased? Yes
Describe what you heard, how clearly you heard it and what was communicated: I wanted to stop fishing, but I could hear my dad saying 'cast out five more times'. I don't know if I was hearing his words from a memory, or if he was communicating with me real-time.
Did the voice or sound seem to originate externally or outside of you, inside you, or did you not hear a voice or sound, but had a sense of knowing what was communicated? At first I thought I was hearing his voice via a memory. He would always say 'Five more times'. But after catching a worm, and a fish, and all the other bizarre events.... I now reflect and think that maybe it wasn't a memory. Maybe he was right there speaking to me.
If you heard a voice or sound, was it similar or dissimilar from the voice or sound the deceased made when they were alive? He sounded exactly like himself.
Is there any possibility what you heard was from any other source present in the surroundings at the time of your experience? No
Was there any possible impairment to your hearing at the time of the experience? No
Did you feel a touch or experience any physical contact from the deceased? No
Did you see the deceased? No
Did you smell a distinct smell, scent, fragrance or odor associated with the deceased? No
How long did the experience last? I was fishing with an empty hook for about 30 minutes in total. The bizarre experience of casting 'five more times' and catching a worm, then a fish, lasted about 3 minutes.
Was the beginning and end of the experience gradual or more sudden? I had been feeling melancholy all day and missing my dad. I wished I hadn't been so ungrateful as a child when he tried to teach me to fish . He wanted me to stop fearing worms so that I could put the worm on by myself and eventually take the fish off by myself as well. I treated him poorly and as an adult, I am ashamed of my behavior. My mom has told me that he was never offended and that it didn't hurt his feelings when I refused to try, but I still feel guilty. The experience which happened on my birthday was 38 years later. It started gradually because I had been staring at the fishing rod / empty hook all day. The urge to fish was nagging at me and I kept trying to ignore it. I finally went fishing when I had privacy because my friend had gone to town. I fished for half an hour feeling more and more connected to my dad. Then I heard him say '5 more times' and the magic began.
Could you sense the emotions or mood of the deceased? No
Did the deceased give you information you did not previously know? He didn't give me information, but he seemed to give me skill in a round-about way. He got a worm onto my hook and got a fish off of my hook, just like when he was alive.
How do you currently view the reality of your experience? Experience was probably real
Please explain why you view the reality of your experience as real or not real: I know there could be some coincidence involved, but the story as a whole is beyond 'chance'. Fish can sometimes get off a hook by themselves, but this one was caught very deeply so it was most unlikely. I have never in my life heard of 'catching a worm'. It is also beyond coincidence that I got the fish after casting 'five more times' like I heard my dad say. It was my birthday. It was dusk... It was near my grandfather's lake. It was a pickerel, in a lake which is mostly known for bass fishing.
Was the experience dream like in any way? No
Describe in detail your feelings/emotions during the experience: I was feeling badly that I hadn't listened to my dad and learned to fish properly. I had wasted all those evenings on the boat which could have been spent talking to my dad and grandfather about their lives, their memories, and their experiences. I love ancestry now, and wish I could have talked to them about their own ancestors or family nostalgia. We could have laughed and had fun. I could have overcome my fear of worms and my refusal to remove a fish. I was feeling guilty that I wasted all that time sulking, and generally being a brat. I was hoping my father knew how sorry I was. I wanted a second chance.
Was there any emotional healing in any way following the experience? Yes
I realize that my dad doesn't resent me for my stubborn behavior on the boat. He remembers our fishing experiences fondly, and I should too. It helped me to stop feeling guilty. I realize I was a very young child and that he treasured the moments with me and his father, regardless of my attitude.
What was the best and worst part of your experience? The best part is feeling completely cleansed of guilt. Hearing his voice was wonderful but I hear it so often that it didn't surprise me. I'm still not sure if I am hearing a memory of his voice, or if he is talking to me in real-time.
Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience? Yes Describe: I have been freed from years of guilt. I no longer feel like I disappointed my dad when I was a little girl on my grandfather's boat.