June 2017 Column Winner

Answers from fishing
Chelsea Weeks, Tri-County Herald

I sat on the chair fidgeting with the fishing poles while the stranger hooked up the trolling motor to the battery.
It was awkward.
I was nervous because it was my first time going fishing. And even more nervous because it was the first time being alone with this stranger, who was my biological father.
My parents weren’t married when I was born, and after my mother died I was adopted by her brother and his family. It wasn’t until I was 18, when I graduated high school and moved to Oklahoma, that I started the journey of meeting my biological paternal family.
This new adventure was something that I did not know how to face.
How do you relate to 15 people who share your blood but not your past?
How does one jump into being a part of a family when they were missing for so long?
All my life I had questions about the mystery man who was my father.
I wanted to know why he didn’t marry my mother, why he let me go, if he knew where I was or even cared.
I didn’t know what he looked like until I was 13, when I saw a picture of him and my mother together.
By spending my days with him on the Blackfork River, I finally received the long-awaited answers to my questions.
Fishing helped me integrate back into the family.
For some, fishing may be a hobby that is a splendid way to waste time, but to me, fishing has become a passion, a way for me to connect with each individual member of my family.
I have been able to fish with past generations, like my great Uncle Hank and coming generations, like my younger cousin, Blayne.
Over four years, I have learned where all the good fishing holes are. I have learned where crawdads can be found. I have learned how to set up trot lines and limb lines.
But most importantly, I have learned about my biological father.
Although I have missed 18 years’ worth of memories, I know every time I step onto the barge with my pole in hand, I get to create my own memories with my long-lost family.

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