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This is a long read, but I think you might find it worth the time.

My Dad passed away on May 13th, 2003. I was his fishing buddy and he was my mentor. He started taking me out on the waters of Lake Erie when I was still in three corner underwear, most of the time against Mom's better judgement.

I was born late in my Dad's life (he was 45). When I reached adulthood, my Dad (Everett Aaron Mills 1925-2003) was retired. We fished every chance we got. When he retired he purchased a 1986 Four Winns 195 Horizon cuddy cabin. We decked it out for Great Lakes fishing and practically lived on it every summer.

As he grew older and I began a family, we found less and less time to get out fishing together but we still managed a day or two a week in the summer. Unfortunately, his health started to fail and he wasn't able to take the boat out without me. My busy schedule made it even more difficult to fish, so the boat started to lack for maintenance. It was almost as if the boat and Dad's health were tied together. The last couple of times we took her out she just wouldn't run right and the last time she wouldn't even fire up. I was frustrated and asked Dad to allow me to take her in for a full service (I didn't have the funds myself). Dad wouldn't allow it, stating that there was nothing wrong with her that he couldn't fix. His health prohibited him from climbing up into the boat and doing any repairs and I didn't attempt it either becasue I knew more had to be done than change spark plugs.

I wanted nothing more than to see my Dad continue to fish so when an opportunity presented itself to purchase a 16' Sylvan very reasonably I bit the bullet and bought the boat. Dad and I were able to fish for the next two years in my little Sylvan and had some great times. The whole time, the Four Winns sat under cover in the barn. Several times we discussed reviving her, but Dad wouldn't budge.

As I said earlier, we lost Dad in May, 2003. I was left the Four Winns. I immediately pulled her out of the barn and started going over her. Working on the boat helped to remember my Dad and somehow I understood why he left her to me to fix up. I sold the little Sylvan and put the money into the Four Winns. The boat itself was meticulously kept, but her engine had thousands of hours on it. I had her motor freshened up and she ran like brand new.

A good friend and I readied her for her maiden voyage. We heard reports of perch and walleye in close to shore so we loaded her up and headed for the lake. It was rough. Rougher than my Dad would have liked to go out, but we were determined. We went out about 2 miles and set up to troll for walleyes. The whole time we were talking about how Dad loved to fish and wished he could have been there with us.

As we trolled, I saw a balloon floating on the water in our path. I thought I should pick it up lest it deflate and wrap around someone's water intake and smoke their impeller (that had happened to Dad and I once). When I hauled it out of the water, I noticed there was a note attached to it in a zip-loc bag. I tried to extract the note but it was water loged. I put it aside to let it dry out and continued to fish. The fishing was very slow, so after an hour or so I looked at the note again. It had dried significantly that I could open it up and read it. I can't remember the exact words (and it later blew out of the boat) but it went something like this:

"I have sent up this balloon with this note as part of a grief counseling program I am in. I have sent up a dozen of these in the hope that someone would read them and allow me the opportunity to pass along what a great person my Father was. My Father passed away from cancer recently. He was a fantastic, caring person and I loved him very much. Please do not try to respond to this note or find out who sent it. I simply wanted others to know about my Dad and ask for their prayers and thoughts to go out to him."

The note was signed by a young girl.

I could not believe the circumstances that led me to find that balloon. It made me sit down and cry. My friend took the note from my trembling hands and read it himself. We trolled along in silence for some time. When we were able to compose ourselves I just looked up and said "I hear you Dad."

God knew my faith was being tested. I know he delivered that note to let me know that everything was as it should be.

See you in the big blue Dad!
 

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Thank you for sharing that personal story. You must love that boat. What great memories! Blessings to you! ;) My dad always wanted a fishing boat but never was able to buy one. I've often thought as I've been on my 21' CC how much he would have enjoyed fishing with me on it.
 

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My father passed a year ago next month. I too had to sit back and cry.... Thank you for passing on the balloon... and reminding me that we will fish together again.
 

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Topper, Thanks for the post. It is wonderful and full of emotion. I know your dad would be proud of the way you fixed up the Four Winns. He will be fishing with you every time
you take her out, and you will never pull a fish over the side of the boat without thinking of your dad. What a great legacy.
 

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That is an incredible testimony!

God is so awesome the way he works like that!

Mark
 

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U know how hard it is to tpye with tears in your eyes?? Thats was great!
 
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