Ah, My Dad And The Old Times

old-times“A seven-inch bluegill on a worm and bobber. You were four, fishing off the dock at Laurel Lake. It was a hot Saturday. You were wearing a pink bathing suit with a picture of Big Bird on the front that Grandma had given you for your birthday. You were so excited that you almost fell off the dock.”

As he continued fishing, I tried to remember the event. The only part of the story that I could validate was the pink bathing suit, apparel I remember seeing in a picture in a family scrapbook.

Later that day, as we paddled through some unproductive fiat water, I asked my father when I had caught my first trout on a fly rod. Without blinking an eye he answered my question.

“You were seven, it was near dusk on a no-kill section. I had just tied a #10 Dave’s Hopper on your tippet. You caught it on your first cast, no drag and a perfect drift. Nine-inch wild brown trout; it jumped twice, gave you a great fight. You were not wearing any waders and you slipped and got soaking wet.”

Astonished, I sat in the canoe contemplating how my dad–who is constantly misplacing his car keys and forgetting what he had for dinner the previous evening–could remember my fishing exploits in such detail.

“How do you remember all that?” I finally had to ask.

“Oh, I remember all the times we went fishing, like the day we spent on the Beaverkill,” he replied. “I remember you and I spending five hours on the water with nothing to show or even the slightest indication that a fish was present when suddenly the river started to teem with rising trout. Toward the outer bank I could see the outline of various insects suspended on the water’s surface. I tried desperately to catch one so I could match the hatch and hopefully turn my luck. I remember it didn’t take me long to realize that the flies the trout were devouring were the same ones that I had tied that winter. Little did I know at the time that you had accidentally dropped my fly box into the river upstream from me.”

Until he mentioned it, I had conveniently forgotten about this unfortunate episode.

“So, you remember both the good times and the bad,” I responded, sheepishly.

My father stopped, put his rod down, and smiled at me. Then he said, “They’ve all been good times, I wouldn’t change one instance. Just think of everything we’ve shared.”

Now that I am 17, I’m beginning to realize that I wouldn’t change one instance, either. Through all the times my father had to bait my hook, untangle my leader or row the boat back to shore so I could go to the bathroom, he never made me feel that he’d rather be fishing with someone else. With’ college just around the corner, and my life accelerating at an ever-quickening pace, I am just starting to appreciate how fortunate I’ve been to have shared this time and passion with my father.

As we brought the canoe to the shore without even a missed strike to talk about, I put my arm around my dad and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“I love you too, Alyssa, it was a great day,” he said.

“Yes it was,” I thought to myself. One that I knew I’d tuck away and remember forever.

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