I had trouble sleeping last night. Not all together unusual. Many things crossing my thoughts that I need to get done — sometimes lists can burden you. Then, in the middle of trying to sleep and contemplating things, my youngest daughter slipped quietly into my room with her pillow and blankie. I’ve never been one to resist the company of my kids so in she plopped. We began an exhausting journey from bathroom to bed to bathroom to bed — her tummy hurt and she knew she needed to throw-up. (I wasn’t really convinced, especially by the sixth unsuccessful trip from bed to bathroom.)
She finally proved me wrong (yes, thankfully on a trip to the bathroom and not to the bed). Her face immediately was restored to the right color, her smile came back, she relaxed on her pillow and she drifted off — peacefully (still now, beside me with the glow of the keyboard on her cherub-like face). I settled in as well, it’s always a relief when your kids are finally content. My thoughts drifted off to my youth and my dad and how I loved to go fishing with him.
The town I grew up in was surrounded by three beautiful lakes. Two were close enough to my house that I could actually ride my bike to them with friends, and did on many hot summer days. My dad always had fishing poles and fishing lures and fishing stories — although, I don’t think he was actually good at it. It’s hard to tell with fishing. I liked to gage my fishing experience by how often I got to re-load my hook with a minnow or a worm and cast it out (that was the funnest part, not the waiting for a fish). We would stand on the shore for hours, drinking coke from glass bottles (you know, the small ones that stayed ice-cold until the last sip) and eating bar-b-que fritos.
Like most good fishermen, my dad bought a boat. Even when he first bought it, the boat was already old and worn. But it was his — his boat. He put it up on some cinder blocks in our back yard and started the maintenance of it that would last over 30 years. The motor would break — up on the cinder blocks it would go. It leaked — up on the cinder blocks it would go. The windshield was cracked — up on the cinder blocks it would go. At one point, he removed the motor all together and affixed it to a wood frame then submerged it in a ginormous trash can filled with water (I need to google to see if this is actually a recommended way to fix a boat motor or not — my dad was an engineer, sometimes they get off track).
The trips to the lake to go fishing became fewer and fewer as he spent more and more time “fixing” the boat. I think he must have forgotten somewhere along the way, that we didn’t need a boat to fish. We just needed some shore and some bar-b-que fritos. Eventually, I stopped asking to go fishing and the running joke in the family became that boat (at one point, there was a tree growing up from the drivers seat — a tree). He couldn’t let go of the boat.
“It might work one day”, he would say, “and then our fishing trips could resume.”
He eventually gave the boat away to someone he thought would finally fix it up. That was only a few months before he passed away from lung cancer. He had a hard time letting go of the boat. For him, the boat was a project — not a catalyst for fishing.
I don’t need a boat to go fishing with my dad — I went last night, as my daughter slept beside me.
And if you’re wondering, apparently my father wasn’t the only one who used their engineering skills for things other than rockets!