I remember my mother dressing up my sisters and I to go down to the docks to participate in the yearly “Blessing of the Fleet”. It was May and sometimes the morning temperature in the very most Northern part of Washington was not kind to little girls in dresses. We always stood in the same line, oldest to youngest. My father was no longer a fisherman, but they had many, many friends that were.
Last week when Son number one sent a picture of his first fish caught, it reminded me of my Dad. His smile, the twinkle in his eye, the feeling you got of accomplishment. The picture of me with my first fish is a black and white and I am about 5. Today it resides on Mr. Right’s desk at work.
My Dad, lost his father at the age 14. He had three sisters and a mom at home.
He had several jobs, however fishing was his favorite. I wonder now, if fishing was also a way to hang out with other fisherMEN?
He fished his way through Alaska to pay for his college. When he put on a suit and tie and got a white collar job, he fished for pleasure.
Yes, he had a boat. He loved fishing, period. He tied his own flies. He taught me how to do it. There was a book with black and white photos and directions on each. I loved tying those little knots and adding the piece of yarn here or there or the fancy poof of color. I liked looking at them all lined up in his fishing tackle box. He fished in Rivers and lakes and in the ocean. He went deep sea fishing and had a favorite “lucky” fishing hat. Read that as his old Army hat.
Unfortunately, he lost his favorite watch while bringing in a fish. He lost a sentimental lighter of his overboard. While we were camping once, he and a friend, sank a boat. Good news, he saved one thing, the “lucky” fishing hat.
After he spent all those years behind a desk as a Federal Parole Officer, he needed craved, really, the open sea. He went back to his passion. Fishing out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. He once again put on a survival suit. This time not for practice. He was the captain of a huge fishing vessel that went down. Fate was smiling on them that day, everyone was okay and the boat was recovered.
About eleven years ago, I sat in the front row of a dark and creepy funeral home. There were about 450 people there. Not everyone fit inside. My father was very well liked. I could hear my heart pounding. My legs were crossed at the ankles, my hands were folded politely so I would not fidget with my pearls. I can still smell the overly sweet pungent aroma of all the many gorgeous flower bouquets. One in particular was directly in front of me. It stood on the floor and was so large that as the decoration or “bow” if you will, was a full sized fishing pole in the arrangement.
As we stood in the receiving line in front of the room, my sisters and I stood oldest to youngest. Half the people we greeted and thanked were in business suits and were very polite and stern and said the right things and I noticed called us by our given names. The other half were fisherman and families. They hugged us and told a quick funny story or shared their sadness and they called us our childhood nick names. It was much easier to greet the proper business suit folks. The fishermen and families were more loving and kind, it was tough.
Now, as with many families, there were huge disagreements in the end. Sadly, and much to my dismay, I had to grow up and be an adult right then and there. With so much arguing and fighting etc….. I sternly made the final decision. Half of my father’s ashes would be buried and half would be given to the sea, as he wished. It was a very sad and depressing time. I made the right decision. He wanted his ashes at sea. However, something unexpected happened, the people that wanted him buried did so with a very stunning headstone. Engraved along with his name is a huge picture of a commercial fishing boat. Certainly a fitting tribute.
My father was well liked in both worlds that he lived in. However, he had a passion so strong for the fishing community that it carried him through his life and after.
I hope Son number one holds onto his new found passion. His passion will bring him stories and adventures to share. It will color his whole life with goodness.