apology….to Joy…

I was sitting here yesterday, crying about my finish in the LaCrosse Open. My Joy kept telling me to stop, that it was just one day, one tournament….I was deaf to her support…to anything. Totally selfish and more than a bit self-absorbed. All I could think about was staying in the top ten!!

Today, I woke up at 4 a.m. to make a three hour ride to Rising Fawn, Georgia (on Lookout Mountain)….not to go fishing, but to attend my nephew’s funeral. Edward David Kendrick was killed last week in an automobile accident. I didn’t talk about it with anyone while I was in Wisconsin, but I was very aware of the event. He was two days shy of his 45th birthday; his daughters were fortunate to survive the wreck, but did suffer injuries that required surgery – they will be ok physically, but the days will be long for them. He will be greatly missed.

My older brother, his father was there. My younger brother, having recently had triple by-pass was also there. I stood between them…four back surgeries, quadruple bypass…having survived addictions, rolling my car two and a half times (walking away after being thrown out)…and a laundry list of other stuff that should have destroyed me….not understanding why I am here, and little David is not……

….and I looked around at the room full of family, saw their suffering and sadness….trying to be strong for each other, but quietly falling apart in in the corners…..

…and I felt ashamed of myself.

The 3 hour ride home, I reflected about what really matters to me. I know that family is important…they are always there no matter how long the gaps between visits. I know that our kids are crucial to our happiness…I could go into an entire soliloquy on the grandkids; dishrag and sis, but I will spare you that one – for now. I cannot imagine what today felt like for my brother…….and I am certain I would get how it felt to him completely wrong. But I will keep this side to myself….

Since I (try to) dedicate this blog to fishing, I want to share the rest of my ride home….I watched my Joy napping, thankful that we had another day…disappointed that I did not hear her yesterday about how little a bad day meant. I kept feeling the loss….all of it.

But as I said, I felt ashamed enough; and had a lot of time to gain perspective, not just about the tournament, but what really keeps me going back for more…..what was good about the Wisconsin Open.

….the reality, I love the competition….placing toward the top is a tremendous feeling….but more, I love the extended family I get as a bonus. The CAKFG, the WTBY, the KBFTN….all of the Tennessee groups; the KBF crew and anglers.

In LaCrosse, I spent a great deal of time talking with Ben Spangler…talked with Joshua Boothe…other guys from Arkansas. Had great conversations with Jody Queen and Brian Aliff for the first time; joked with Jay Wallen at the launch. Fished, if only for a few minutes, with A.J. Mcwhorter and Kristine Fischer – she pedaled off and said “there is a fish right here, catch it”….I did, it was 11 inches, but it was there. Met more of my fellow anglers (I suck at names) who shared what they were doing, almost woke up Josh Stewart by shaking his truck at a rest area but thought maybe that was not a good idea. As always, talked with Siddiqi, Rebecca Golden, Cody Milton….had my first real conversation with Steve Leaman. Talked with the famous Brad Case who had shared water with me in Arkansas. Met new friends, shared lies and laughs with old ones….my friends left back at home sending texts for support all day, every day…

And I didn’t catch fish the second day…….but I have been blessed beyond what I should be, and was fishing. I was with friends – my extended family. I didn’t feel well, and knew that my brother had suffered a great loss….but being around all of the folks at the tournament – having my Joy calling, and as always waiting for me in the hotel…even a surprise facetime call with dishrag who wanted to see where I was fishing; well, in the end, it comforted me….and that got lost in my pouting about a bad finish.

It is just fishing after all………our family, our friends, our relationships matter more than a few missed fish….and always will.

Sorry I forgot that for a second Joy.

See you later David…you will be missed.

Author: Mike Cheatham

Me…Mike Cheatham email…mikecheathamfishing@gmail.com something to know……….fished my whole life; now from a kayak….

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