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Tofishem

Our last day fishing... Mom & I

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This is a true story of my Mom & I 2 days after Christmas. Taking place on an area lake in Bemidji

A fishing memory that will never fade away
By JOHN MCRAE
Bemidji Pioneer

It was one of those perfect days that come along all too infrequently while hunting or fishing. The crappies were biting and anglers were pulling them through the ice one after another.
Upon hitting the water, the bobber would twitch and suddenly disappear. Soon, yet another fat crappie would be flopping on the ice.
It was a dream day, but not for all the anglers on the ice that afternoon — just two days removed from Christmas in 2003. Bruce Barnum and his mother Bev were the fortunate anglers that day, finding exactly the right spot at exactly the right time.
Everything changed dramatically, however, in the blink of an eye.
Seemingly out of the blue, Bruce’s mother and cherished fishing buddy was dead.
“She looked over at me and said, ‘Oh Bruce, I can’t breathe. I think I’m going to pass out.’ She said it very calmly and then slumped over,” Bruce recalled.
Bruce said he knew immediately that something was very wrong. He attempted to awaken his mother by shaking her arm, but there was no response.
Bruce quickly flipped open the top of the portable fish house and yelled to other anglers that he needed help.
They all responded quickly. Jeff Nelson and his son Jake where close by and ran over with haste. Walt Jones and son Dustin also came over quickly to offer assistance. Allen Gendreau, a First Responder visiting the Bemidji area from North Carolina, was there to assist along with Rob Haar.
Bev was still alive at the time, although unresponsive.
Bruce got on his cell phone and called 911. The Barnums were fishing on a lake that wasn’t easily accessible by emergency vehicles. Even giving directions was tough.
“The guys knew there was no way an ambulance could get to the lake,” said Bruce, “so they quickly brought over a pickup and placed my mom in back. A sheriff’s deputy and two conservation officers heard the call and quickly came out to help. Just as we got her to the main road, an ambulance arrived.”
Bev was rushed to the hospital, where she still exhibited vital signs upon arrival. She died about 90 minutes after getting to the emergency room.
Looking back on the situation this week, Bruce still couldn’t believe all the assistance his fellow anglers provided. “I’m so thankful the guys were out there,” he said. “Without their help, I don’t know what I’d have done,” he said.
The entire day remains vivid in his mind as do the memories Bruce, his dad and mom built over the years through fishing together.
Growing up in Rockford, Ill., Bruce was the youngest child of a large family. By the time he was old enough to fish, his siblings had grown and left the house.
“Starting when I was 8 years old or so,” Bruce said, “every Saturday morning from April through June, Mom, Dad and I would get up early, drive to Wisconsin, rent a boat and catch crappies.
“It was so much fun. Mom enjoyed it as much, if not more, than Dad and I.”
The fishing excursions became the most special of times for Bruce, strengthening the bond between a son and his parents. When the family was on the lake everything else could be put aside, nothing mattered except having a good time and catching the next fish.
As Bruce grew older more adventurous family fishing excursions to Canada and the southern U.S. followed. Not only was the family bond strengthened, Bruce said, but he was also being provided with an amazing gift — a deep and abiding love of the outdoors.
Bruce’s dad died in 1981 and there were fewer family fishing trips. Upon moving to Bemidji in 1999 Bruce and his in-laws bought a family resort on Big Turtle Lake north of Bemidji. Bev, living in Arizona by that time, loved to make visits.
“Before Christmas, the last time she was here was in 2001,” Bruce said. “We got out fishing a lot. She just loved it. Not necessarily catching fish, but just being out there.”
The two would use the time together to reminisce about fishing trips past and get a laugh from the memories.
Bruce said his mom really looked forward to what turned out to be her last trip north. “I told her we were going ice fishing and she was really excited,” Bruce said. “She had a chance to go on a cruise with some family friends but she turned them down, saying she wouldn’t miss her chance to come up here.”
Bruce admits he’s still numbed by the shock of losing his mother. But, in retrospect, he said he’s come to believe it may have been fortunate things ended the way they did.
“The whole thing is, she was doing something she loved at the time,” he said. “It’s the way I would want to go — being out on the lake, catching fish the way we did.
“It was like we were fishing in a barrel, catching crappies one after another. We were giggling and laughing, carrying on like kids. I told her, ‘Mom, we hit the jackpot … it’s a gold mine.’ Funny thing was, nobody else was catching fish like that.
“It was strange, almost like it was meant to be.”
Those memories have comforted Bruce, he said, over the eight weeks since his mother’s death. “I think of it all the time,” he said. “We were doing something we both loved, having a great time.
“If her dying was meant to be, if that’s what had to happen, I’m very fortunate I was able to share those last moments with her.”
Bruce said the overriding memory of the experience has become a picture of his mother that’s deeply and forever etched in his mind.
“I remember looking over and seeing her holding the biggest crappie we caught that day. She had a huge smile on her face. I wanted to take a picture, but the camera batteries were low and it didn’t work out.
“It doesn’t really matter, though. I’ll have that picture with me forever .”

I felt the need to share this one with all!
Bruce Barnum

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Man, that was a very sad, happy, touching, emotional story. I dont know whether to feel happy or sad. I think I'll choose happy. As stated, it almost seemed like fate. To share a most perfect final moment, one that could never be duplicated even if tryed.

------------------
http://groups.msn.com/canitbeluck

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God has blessed you Bruce,you have great memories,sorry for your loss.Don

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Feel Happy. I do. I mean even though I lost Mom, I was there sharing a passion we both loved. And were catching crappies like mad. That sometimes keeps me going. Knowing that we shared that together. No one can take that away.
Bruce

[This message has been edited by Tofishem (edited 02-26-2004).]

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Your a lucky man Bruce. To be able to share that experience with your Mom in the end is truely what is priceless in life!

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Sorry to hear of the passing of your mom.

But what a gift you were to each other. Like you said it's almost as if you were meant to be together catching those crappies sharing a wonderful moment. Thank you for sharing your personal story with all of us.

Take care and God Bless.

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Bruce,
That story is just as compelling as when you first told me the story, and when I saw it in the paper the first time. Once again I'm sorry about your mom, and I wish we were all so lucky, to go out doing what we love most, with the one's we love most! Take care and God bless.

------------------
Matthew J. Breuer
Northcountry Guide Service
[email protected]
-----------------------
Custom Jigs and Spins
Phelps Tackle
Stone Legacy
Ice Leaders

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Bruce,

What a touching story. I'm still numb, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Thank you for sharing and God bless!

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Bruce- WOW!! WHat an amazing story about your experience. I have to agree with you about spending precious time with the ones you love and doing what you love to do. I spend as much time with my family hunting and fishing, so all of us can enjoy what God created for us to enjoy. I keep telling everybody you have to move to "Gods Country!" (Bemidji!

Sorry about your loss and our thoughts and prayers are with you.

------------------
Happy Fishing,

Woodman

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Beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a moving story. I'm sorry for your loss.
Ol'Sneller

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