Family finds silver lining in pandemic

For Noah Brown of Winnsboro, La., COVID-19 has a huge silver lining. A single dad with a grown son and a 7-year-old daughter, he’s struggled to find a balance between work and family life since losing his wife four years ago.

Once an avid fisherman, Brown had never taken his daughter fishing until he was furloughed from his job due to the pandemic back in the spring.

“She’s grown up looking at pictures all around the house of her brother and me with big stringers of crappie, bass, catfish. She’s always asked about going fishing. Her school let out about the same time I got furloughed, and on that first day, we went fishing in a friend’s pond. She loved it,” said Brown.

Brown had a fishing boat in the backyard covered with vines. He cut the weeds away and tried to get it running. His 22-year-old son stopped by and immediately got his hands dirty on the neglected outboard.

“My son’s helped me out a lot with his sister over the years, but we haven’t spent much time together due to work and all. He loves to tinker with things. Before long, he had the motor purring like a kitten. All three of us headed to Bruin Lake the next day,” he said. “We had an outstanding day. We caught about everything you can catch.”

Feeling blessed in a time of turmoil

Brown has been called back to work and furloughed again several times. So the three have continued to fish regularly throughout the summer, with Brown and his son constantly working on the old boat. He gets choked up talking about it.

“You know, that part — me and him working together on that boat — I can’t hardly explain it. I swear I’d have given up on that boat if it weren’t for him. Just seeing that part of him and working with him on something to help us all spend more time together, it’s been a bonding experience,” he said.

The time with his daughter has been just as special.

“Before COVID, I knew she was getting the short end of the stick since her mom died. I figured I was doing the right thing, working as much overtime as possible to pay bills and keep food on the table,” he said.

Between catching fish and their garden vegetables, Brown said their freezer and cupboards have remained fully stocked. He wishes his family’s togetherness could have happened for a better reason.

“I feel bad for all the hurt that COVID has caused. But for the past several months, since it all started, life has been so good for me and my family. The time spent reconnecting with my son and finally connecting with my daughter like I wasn’t sure I ever would, while doing something we all love. What more a man can ask for? The whole thing has blessed me beyond measure,” he said.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you enjoy the outdoors? Do you have a story to share? Please post a comment below or e-mail it to images@ms-sportsman.com.

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