Not a new one, but posting this in honor of Dad’s birthday. It was not originally intended to be a shared writing, just a heartfelt note to my dad.
A Father’s Advice
Five years. It seems like forever, and yet, only a moment. I look out over the water and hear your voice. “It’s a beautiful day on the pond, I wonder what the poor people are doing?” Always said with a bit of whimsy, yet there was never any doubt as to the truth of the statement. The poor people. Those who did not have the luxury to spend the day on the water (or, as I later realized, doing whatever was their passion). No matter how tired or sore our bodies were and regardless of the harvest, we were wealthy, for there was no place else we would rather be.
I hear other phrases too. “Never stand in the bight of the line.” Words you repeated a thousand times, the rural commercial fisherman’s equivalent to “always look both ways before crossing the road.” You were telling me not to stand within the V of a line under tension because if the line snapped, that could be an area of danger, but more than that, you were teaching me to be aware of my surroundings; to avoid placing myself unnecessarily in harm’s way.
“Wait for the last big wave and ride it in.” Smart people learn that, even in the middle of a storm, the wind and waves can be used to their advantage. Get rattled, get in a hurry, and mistakes occur, but time the landing correctly and the last big wave will push the skiff safely up the beach. You taught me that patience is the key to a rough day.
Of course, another good lesson is that you can’t do it perfect every time. Even for an expert, things can go wrong. The timing gets messed up and the rollers break over the stern pounding your backside. I can still see your oops grin, the salt water dripping down your face. “Any landing you can walk away from…” In other words, don’t beat yourself up, just try to do a little better next time.
It’s funny. I thought you were teaching me about fishing, but in reality you were teaching me about life. I hope I learned the lessons well and that I would have made you proud. I miss you Dad.