"And as I float along this ocean … "
Dateline: Fishing with dad
I felt it, the story, before I heard it.
Knew it was a good story, before I knew the story.
I believe stories have energy. Have a power in and of themselves.
A story highway you look to intersect. Drawn to the flow, with the great stories pulling you in. The greater the story, the greater the energy.
I'm junked on that energy. Jacked. I can feel the fingers of the energy, tickle me.
It is that stuff that makes our hair stand up.
It is the stuff of unease.
The fuel of gut feelings.
The movement in the corner of your eyes.
Here's the setup … I'm sitting in a chair interviewing an angler, a good story, a story I'm excited to tell, but just out of my vision on my left side, there's movement. With a quick turn I see a couple standing there. Turn back to the dude I'm talking to, and then, then … I feel it.
Wind on the hair on my neck where no wind should be.
So I finish up my interview, thank him for his time, and I get up to leave.
As I'm about to head to my room, the couple came up to me and the man says, "Can I talk to you?"
And I say, "Uh-huh."
Because I know what's coming.
"Do you want to hear a story?"
I've already felt it … the tickle.
"Well ah, um it's about my dad."
And I feel the hit. Junked. The story highway just sucked me in, and I don't know what it is about, but standing there before this man and his wife I know that the story they carry with them, the energy of that story is palatable.
"My dad, he loves to fish."
I've heard this a hundred times, but never felt it like this before. Never felt those words like I do right now … I'm just standing there but my gut is saying, Woo-hoo.
"Tom, his name was Tom. He loved to fish, took me fishing as a boy, and he would be so proud of me today if he saw me here … "
And this young man in front of me begins to tear up. Looks to his wife standing next to me, looks to the floor below us …
"I think it might be a good story, about my dad."
"I know he would be so proud of me to see me here, but he can't because he died … so … "
I didn't know what he was about to say, but I knew, felt it was going to be great.
" … so … I done brought him with me … brought his ashes… they in a box on the front deck of my boat … me and my daddy going fishing one last time."
And I smiled, the energy, was right.
" … I can feel you like a notion that won't seem to let me go … "
"My Daddy, he died March 17, in 2005."
His son, Destre DeDeaux from Meadville, Miss., is sitting in a chair next to me telling me this … his wife Doll DeDeaux is sitting across the table from me. I'm basically stunned.
A few moments ago I was finishing an interview and then planning on going to bed … nope.
"My Daddy, he told me he wanted to be buried next to my Momma, Lessie Merle … they were married 50 years, almost, Momma died three days before their 50th wedding anniversary."
Destre DeDeaux is the state champ from Mississippi. "From out my front door you can look and all you'll see is the Homochitto National Forest."
Destre is a Crude Oil Pipeliner, but mainly, "I fish, compete a lot, do pretty well. I can catch me a mess of fish on a black top road."
I write that saying down, one for the book.
"My Daddy … shoot, man he was my best friend … I think about him every day … I miss him every day."
Then Tom's best friend wipes his eyes. "Sorry db … I'm an emotional guy."
Me too, dude. Me too. I can bust into tears on a black top road.
"My Daddy, he asked me to bury him next to Momma, but I couldn't, just couldn't, don't know why but all I knew, could feel, was that he was hanging in with me, hanging with me for a reason, some reason … "
" … cause when I look to the sky … "
"Something stopped me from burying him right away. One day I was driving home and the Conway Twitty song, "That's My Job," came on my truck radio and I just started crying, but I knew the Lord was sending me a message."
The message … hang in there with your Daddy … that's YOUR job.
"So then I go out and become the state champ for Mississippi, and that's when it hit me … I would be coming here, would be coming here with a chance to win it, with a chance to fish in the Bassmaster Classic, and could hardly stop crying because it was then I knew what to do."
"Out back of the house, I build a fire, and me and the wife and a couple friends we grab some cold beers and go out there and sit and talk and look at the stars."
And it was out back where Destre broke the news.
"I told them I knew what to do with Daddy, told them I knew why it was I was holding onto him and not burying him with Momma as he wished."
And as he told me, he began to cry.
"I told them I was going to take Daddy, my fishing buddy … carry him here on his last fishing trip."
" … something tells me you're here with me … "
"I know the reason I didn't bury him was because he wanted to be there with me on the biggest fishing tournament of my life."
Tom DeDeaux took his son Destre on his first fishing trip ever.
Now Destre was taking Tom on his last fishing trip, ever.
"My best friend, Jason, he made me this beautiful wood box out of ash … Made me this box that I could put Daddy's ashes in and bring him here … that box sits right up front on the deck."
And will be there throughout the tournament. Jon Stewart, the tournament director, happened to be walking by as I was doing the interview so I stopped him, told him the story, asked him if all of this was going to be OK, or against the rules.
Jon looked at me, looked at Destre, looked back at me and said "The rules only pertain to people who are alive … "
And then Jon put his hand on Destre's shoulder and told him, "… you'll be fine."
Destre has no plans to leave his fishing buddy here, out there somewhere on the water. "Win, lose, or draw, when this is done I'm going take him and bury him next to Momma like he asked, but for now, he will be out there with me."
Destre, know this, when your Daddy put a fishing pole in your 3-year-old hands, he did so because he loved fishing, and he loved you.
But that simple act also did this, and your Daddy knows it now, as you will … your daddy is with you every cast you make.
And if you put a rod and reel in the hands of your children … Granddaddy will be with them, every cast THEY make.
In the box, you have what's left of the body of Thomas Dedeaux, but it is in your heart where your Daddy lives.
Your Daddy is with you, on or off the boat.
Tournament or not.
Fishing or not.
Bodies come and go, the love they have within them is what is meant to stay.
And it is that energy of their love that you will always feel, with you.
It is that energy of his love for you that tickled my neck, that made my hair stand up, that powered my gut feeling that a great story was about to be told.
And Daddy … was right.
" … and you make everything alright."
When I Look To The Sky