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Monday, February 4, 2013

The Lessons

Fishing with my Dad is one of my favorite memories. He never treated me like a girl, I was just me. His caring and teaching side would come out on those adventures. We sat side by side, quietly waiting for the big one to bite. He liked how I wasn't squeamish about hooking the worm or taking the fish off the hook. I liked the smell of his pipe and the way I felt sitting next to him, safe, loved and peaceful. The good times with him were the best. He was funny, caring and patient. My favorite fishing memory was when I went ice fishing with him. The fish seemed to bite at every drop of the line into that dark, cold hole. The memory of the fire he built me to keep me warm still clear. The thermos of hot chocolate just for me, hot chocolate never tasted as good. His friends were there too and they seemed to get a kick out of my Dad bringing me along. I was bundled up in a bulky snowsuit, extra mittens packed in case I got wet. He seemed prepared to make sure I was warm. We had a sleeping bag I could slip into also. I was his youngest, his forth girl out of five children. I looked much like him and was a tomboy in his presence. I think I always knew it had been a disappointment I was not a boy, but that was overcome easily as we became buddies. I also knew I was a big surprise, five years between me and my next sister. Dad was sweet to me, liking having another little one as my older siblings were becoming more independent and well, teen agers, with attitudes. He paraded me around like a prized possession at times. I felt special to him and loved. We both enjoyed nature and animals. He would often take me on hikes through the woods to just catch a glimpse of a deer or a pheasant. He taught me facts about birds I still retain today. He was an avid bird watcher and loved teaching me the names of the birds. We always had bird feeders and I still have one he made out of redwood 40 years ago. He hunted, something I had no desires for learning, but had I, being a girl would not had been an issue to my Dad. Somehow I knew my being a girl was never seen as an obstacle to him. He was not sexist and that made it easy to like being with him and learning the things my Dad knew. He taught me how to fix things, how to be independent and not need to rely on a man. He taught me strength and in the good times I knew his love for me was infinite. Those are the memories I hold onto. I dream of him healthy and whole, sitting by a stream waiting for the big one to bite. Someday I hope to sit next to him again...

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