Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My father's boat

Ward and I are in the process of buying a house. As part of this, we are getting rid of many things in anticipation of a move. With this discarding comes a whole set of emotions. There's the good feeling of cleaning up and organizing things. There's the angst of wondering if maybe we should have kept something for future use. And there's the sadness and nostalgia of letting a part of the past go. My father's boat is a good example of this.

My father was an avid fisherman and spent most of his life fishing on the local creeks and rivers. He loved being on the river in his john boat whether he was with a friend or by himself. However the last few years of his life, he was not able to go fishing any more and his boat sat in my parent's backyard under the walnut tree. As my father became more and more feeble, my mother fretted more and more about how she was going to get rid of the boat. I think it was easier for her to worry about the boat than it was to think about my father's declining health. So during one of our visits, we said that we wanted the boat and would take it home with us. We didn't really want the boat, but we'd figure out later what to do with it.

And there it sat.
So we loaded the 160 lb, 14' long boat on top of our van and drove it across the mountains to our house. In hindsight, that was not a very smart thing to do, but everyone and everything made it in one piece. We put the boat in the backyard and there it sat.

At first, we asked around if to see if anyone wanted it. We asked Ward's family, we asked the neighbors, and we asked friends. Then I started asking every repairman that came to the house. Several people said they were interested, but never got back to us. So after a while, we moved onto other things and there it sat. Then after a while longer, it became part of the landscape and we forgot about it. That was until recently when we started to think about selling our house. If that was going to happen, the boat was going to have to go.

My first thought was to give the boat away to a charity because I didn't want to have to deal with people coming by to look at it from Craig's list. After a talk with a friend from work who is training to be an EMT, I found the perfect place. I could give it to the local water rescue team to use in training. My father would have loved that idea and actually would have loved being part of a team like that. I called the station and they said great. They could use the boat. I told my sisters and they were thrilled with the idea of Daddy's boat being used that way. It even brought tears to Miss Lander's eyes because it was so perfect.

The next Saturday, we borrowed Uncle Billy's truck to take the boat to the rescue station. I called before we left to let them know we were coming, and they were surprised. They didn't know who I talked to, but they couldn't use the boat. What a big disappointment.

Back to the drawing board. I started calling charities that took cars to see if they wanted a boat. No such luck, because as it turns out, we didn't have the title. We had done a fair amount of looking, but never did find it. So with no title, we couldn't sell it or donate it. What to do now? The best and only suggestion at this point was to turn it over and make a planter out of it. I didn't think that was going to help sell our house.

Then Aunt Martha had the idea that finally worked. Sell it for scrap metal. I hated the idea of scrapping a perfectly good boat, but when you're discarding things, not each and every piece is going to find the perfect home. The local scrap yard would take it without a title, so again we borrowed Uncle Billy's truck to transport the boat. However, I was not ready for the flood of emotions I had as they put it in the truck. All I could see was my father sitting in that boat and fishing. He's been gone for three years, but the memories were still fresh.

The trip to the metal recycling yard went without a hitch (except a pulled muscle Theo got lifting the boat). We were able to get a little money for the boat that we put in an account for my mother's care. I think my father would have approved of what we did with the boat. Because what he would have wanted more than anything is for my mother to be taken care of.