Dads play an important role in their children’s lives. Some Dads are practical jokers, some are disciplinarians, and others are big teddy bears. Regardless of what type of Dad you have, their words, actions and life-long lessons leave lasting impressions. That’s why it’s critical to spend quality time with each other and create those special life-long memories.
Up until a few weeks ago, my Dad and I hadn’t fished together in years. Like many of us, we started fishing together when I was a young boy, around 5 or 6 years old. Call them fishing trips but they were really about my Dad teaching me lessons in life. Lessons that teach skill, patience, appreciation and responsibility. I can still hear his voice, patiently telling me how to put the worm on the hook. I really did enjoy our time together. Dad sitting me down on the grassy bank of a river, all the while describing everything around me.
I didn’t catch many fish and I was mainly bored most of the time. I hadn’t yet developed an appreciation for nature so I didn’t sit there quietly enjoying the lakeside silence, the warmth of the sunlight, or the beauty that surrounded us on all sides. No, as a kid of 5 or 6 I had the ability to sit still for as long as two minutes at a time. I wandered up and down the bank turning over rocks and logs, finding homeless hooks and sinkers, and digging holes in the dirt with a stick. I remember throwing exactly one rock into the lake before Dad told me to “knock it off, you’re scaring the fish away.”
I loved fishing with my Dad. We would go, set up our poles, and then for lunch, we’d go grab a sandwich together. When the fish would bite, whether it was on my pole or his, my Dad would hook it and then give the pole to me so I could bring them in. I was so proud when we got home. I’d yell to my Mom “Guess what? I caught 10 fish and Dad didn’t catch any!”
Obviously my Dad had more to do with catching those fish than I did, but he never said a word. He just let me enjoy my special moment. In the end, that was one of the best lessons of all. A good parent isn’t about accolades or awards. Being a good father means doing what’s needed to build a foundation of success for their children. Seeing them meet that success and seeing the smile on their faces when they do well. There’s not much more that a parent could ask for. I hope that some day, when I’m a father, my kids will look back on the times we’ve spent together and feel the same way I do when I think about my Dad.
After visiting their first grandchild in Florida last month, my parents stopped in Dallas for a week before heading back home. My Dad and I had to unfortunately cancel our guided Lake Fork trip due to poor water conditions, so we went pond hopping instead. A bit rusty but overall my Dad is and always will be a great fisherman. But fast forward 30 years and we’ve come full circle. I was the one patiently telling him how to put the worm on the hook.
Thanks Dad, for all the times you took me fishing. Thanks for taking a hyper kid, with the attention span of a fruit fly, fishing. Thanks for the memories and the family bonds. Thanks for teaching me how to do it on my own.