“I always want to make my Father proud.”
Seems like a very easy and common statement, and those that go through the efforts, know it isn’t always so. As children, we are ardent in making that smile on our parent’s face, and causing that gleam in their eye.
Cause, effect, reward.
From your very 1st step, to your 1st word, the strength of all those “1st’s” always seems far superior in smile strength and parental enjoyment than the repetition of those that follow. Once you’ve made steps, then you’re walking, then you’re running; then the world opens up.
No matter the distance though, your Dad is your dad, and your Mom is your mom, and believe you me – through a life of disparity, those things never change.
A golden reminder moment was a request that I had been asking of my dad for years.
“Let’s go fishing?!?”
I know it’s not his thing, he viewed it as something I shared with my maternal Grandfather from my youth, and always held out from joining me whether it be from that, time constraints, or from simple reservation. Maybe he finally said “Yes” because we’ve both celebrated Birthdays recently, have gotten closer again, or due to health ramifications that we each know that we’re not being honest with one another about, but Dad finally conceded/gave-in/accepted my invitation to make the Trek to where I take my sons fishing. He said “yes”. That to me is gratifying.
Dad and I are dissimilar in as many ways as we are the same. We don’t have to have the same likes or tastes, or walk the same path, but between genetics and learned aptitudes, he has guided me to become the man I have become in a lot of ways.
Besides, it’s only…going…fishing.
Starting with a good local on-the-way-breakfast, we finish our meal, last sip of coffee (at 7:30am) and head out on a new drive. With Dad behind the wheel, we’re off on a new adventure, but more so; a day spent betwixt father and son.
Driving familiar territory, was relaxing and talk drifted back and forth. Then we hit the new highway, and there was a spark in the driving pattern.
My Father had discovered something new, and a road he hadn’t traveled.
Not only because it was a newly constructed highway, but after seeing the beauty and the solitude that this highway provided, and the way it was carved through the mountains, but then once getting off it to drive the “virgin” country roads that Dad had never driven before, gave a youthful fervent intensity that I hadn’t seen from him in a while.
Coasting the country roads, reminding him of his younger days on the road driving Quebec and Ontario, he was experiencing them in a way that I have become acclimated to, having driven these same roads for a few decades on fishing excursions.
Weaving the paved roads between farms, lakes, and forest, and not knowing the way, always adds excitement in the manner that you drive, and with the amount of miles that I know my Dad has driven over the years, it was nice to see him enjoying the drive.
That driving passion was re-invigorated, and more once we hit the dirt roads, winding and sliding in ways that I don’t think my father is driven in a while. All this and we haven’t even started fishing.
This lasted for a while until we hit that last stretch of road, and turned onto our lake-front property. Years of talking, and exaggerated up-talk of the beauty and sanctity of the locale that is my/our escape from civilization, finally found light, and a home, in my father’s eyes.
He saw what I saw when I first made that same drive. My own father shared that first step that I had taken.
And I, was proud.
The view of the lake, surrounded by the gradually changing leaves of fall. The glistening of the light on the mirroresque reflection, and the slow gentle whisper of the wind of the wind. Fresh and new, but the same yet different.
My built up illustrations of my little slice of Heaven, were found out to be…just that honest and true.
We were given a “choice and great day”, with just enough temperature to remind us that it was Fall (mandating a fresh made-at-the-Lake coffee of course), but enough solitude, tranquility, and beauty, that “Pop” now, and really now, understands the very simple distractions that this escape offers me both physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Then it came time to put boat to water, and Dad saw that we make the most of what we have. Simply, my 1959 Gale outboard is just fine to run my boat. I don’t have need of the newest and best (never have). If it works, great, if not, my last name befits the actions to move the boat…I can “Roe” it anytime.
Fishing is an event to me, or a pastime, not necessarily one to be successfully measured by the catch. It is the action of doing; peace in the boat, rod to the water, taking everything in, and sharing it with those with us at the time (and if no one, than the fishing-dog, and if not, then simply with a cigar).
The zen of it all, is that it is my way to be one with myself. Lovingly shared with my wife and sons, my friends, my pets, and/or my humidor.
Today my Dad joined me. A fresh new experience.
Although I beg to differ with his memories, Dad says he has never been fishing with me, as a child nor as an adult. I however, remember him going both cod fishing off the coast, and lake fishing trout in Newfoundland as a child; as well as fishing with him alongside my Grandfather growing up by the water in Pincourt.
Regardless, climbing into the boat, it was fresh, being able to show my Dad the sites of the lake and the lay of the land, and he looked through the eyes of a wide-eyed youth, seeing what I’ve seen for these long years.
The adventure continued once we pulled into the bay, and the I shut the motor. Fifty feet from a beaver lodge, 30 feet from a marsh, and surrounded by evergreens that grew between stone, we cast for that 1st time together, and my Dad was laughingly sheepish.
It had been so long, he had forgotten how to cast.
Simply so, I educated/re-educated Dad in the art of casting, and in exactly the same way that he taught me things in life, I did the same. Learn-do, do-learn. Have fun, and you’ll get the hang of it. No one to impress, and absolutely nothing to regret or be ashamed of, because practice will produce what you want.
And so, he cast, and cast, and cast. Even when he didn’t think I was looking, I was watching him have fun, and when he did happen to mis-cast, jokingly blamed on “Your left-handedness doesn’t work with a right handed rod.”
Then he caught a fish. Then fishing caught Dad.
He told me that it was the 1st fish he had caught. True or not, I was happy for him any which way.
Then Dad saw me catch a fish, and he understood what I knew, how I felt, and some kind of mutual understanding came into place.
Blood became kindred spirit, and he understood the fishing “zen” I constantly describe: that it isn’t the words that are always said, it’s the feeling you get around them. That’s the experience I have always wanted to share with him.
Like all things in life, the day did have to come to an end, but it was a day well spent, and long overdue. My personal happiness is that at least I got to share it with a man who has meant, and always will mean so much to me, regardless of our differences and choices.
He is my Dad, always has been, always will be. He spent a day with me and saw a piece of my world through my eyes, and I in turn, spent the day seeing the world through his.
Hopefully because of this, We understood each other a little more…and as proof:
Dad passed me the keys, and He let His Son drive Home.