Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Dad

I told this story as part of the toast for my younger brother's wedding.

When I was probably about eight years old, my father took my brother and me fishing. It was part of an adventure that the Fish Family men undertook from time to time, to test their mettle against the wise and mighty sunfish of the world. Of course, we were always trying to catch more than sunfish, but that's all we ever seemed to get (until one day my brother caught an 18 inch bass and then it was fish-on for real!).

So, we went to our favorite family spot, a little bit of water that can best be described as larger than a pond and considerably smaller than a lake. A lake-pond, if you will. We got set up as we always did and proceeded to cast and catch very, very little fish. And very few of them. Being an adventurous 8 year old who was clearly not catching fish, I decided to explore the lake-pond and see if I could locate a better fishing spot (or at least a more interesting place to throw rocks where nobody was fishing).

I came across a tree that had been blown over in a storm, and as luck would have it, it had blown over in such a way that it was hanging over an island about 15 feet off the shore of the lake-pond, with a clear cast to some deep running, promising looking, water. To my trained and finely honed eight-year-old eyes, I saw Big-Fish Water. Surely, this is where all of the lunkers of lake-pond resided and I now had access to them. Sort of.

My Mission Impossible plan was executed thusly (and without the help of my MI Team, I might add): I put my rod and bait in my left hand and used my right hand to balance as I kind of shimmied out on the fallen tree about ten feet from the bank to a spot directly over the island. I dropped my rod (The Horror) and bait down to the island. It seemed a long drop by eight year old standards, but I was after the Lunkers of Lake-Pond. Then I hung down from the tree, chin-up style, and let go.

Whump. I hit the ground. I am fairly certain I added a tuck and roll, MI-style, right after hitting terra firma. I was in my spot. I had the rod and reel, the bait and access to lunkers. I felt brave and smart and even a little proud of myself for devising and executing this clever plan.

I fished for about an hour and noticed it was getting dark. I don't remember if I caught more fish. I do remember I didn't catch bigger fish. Certainly no lunkers. And, it was getting dark. And, I was eight. It was around this time that my father appeared at the top of the hill, where the tree was overhanging and said it was time to go.

My predicament was immediately apparent. With a sudden panic, I realized I had dropped down from a tree I couldn't reach back up to. I had landed on an island, which by definition is surrounded by water. I was stranded on an island with deeper water all around me and no way to get up. So, I did what any eight year-old would do in this situation.

"Dad. I'm kind of stuck down here. Can you help me."

My father assessed the situation with lightning quickness and said, "Son. Never get yourself into a situation that you haven't figured how you can get yourself out of it. We're leaving in five minutes."

And he turned around and walked back to the car.

I ended up wading through the water (warm and deep, as I recall) and got to the car in time. My dad didn't say anything more about it, just handed me a towel to dry off and sit on for the ride home.

I remember being mad at the time, as furious as an eight-year-old can get, wondering why he didn't help me. It wasn't until many years later that I realize just how much he did.

Thanks, Dad.


Fishmagic said...

Great story, thanks for sharing.

Reminds me somewhat of my first deer hunting trip. I was 13 and I shot a deer. I was alone on my stand, and as I walked up to the deer, I realized, "what now." I too yelled "dad," but the difference is, thankfully, he came down and helped me gut the thing.

Anonymous said...

Awesome story Fishr. A really nice read.

Lisa said...

I never read Father's Day posts until much later. Having lost my Dad when I was only 16- it's still a bitter day. Thank you for sharing that- I can imagine that your Dad was watching to make sure you were safe, all the while willing his strength and determination over to you, proud when he saw you come out of that water. You had a great example that you're living up to. Good job Dad. Little Fish is lucky to have you.