Tag Archives: Fathers

June 17 – Gone Fishin’

by Sara Etgen-Baker

Early one Saturday morning when I was about ten, Father gently nudged me from a deep slumber. “Time to go fishin’, Sweetie.”

Reluctantly I uncovered my face; blinked; closed my eyes, and blinked again. I sat up, stretched my arms above my head; and yawned, remembering how I’d pleaded with him the night before.

“May I go with you, pleeeease Daddy?” I begged.

Taking me wasn’t easy, for I was squeamish around worms and water. But I’d tolerate almost anything just to have some alone time with Father.

“But Daddy, it’s dark outside. Aren’t the fish sleeping?”

“They’ll be awake soon enough. Get a move on!”

He loaded me and his fishing gear into his pickup truck and drove to the nearest lake where at the crack of dawn he launched his flat bottom boat, the Nini-Poo, into the water. It was a sultry, windless August morning; and the lake, flat as any mirror, lay before us without a single ripple as if time itself had been frozen. From the tall pines around the edge came not a sound, no movement of branches and no birds calling.

Father tugged on the choke of his outboard motor and pulled on the starter rope three times before the engine sputtered into action. We skittered across the lake, shattering the lake’s glassy appearance. Once we reached an isolated cove, Father turned off the ignition, letting the boat come to a gentle stop. He reached under his seat; fetched his bucket of worms; nabbed one of the larger ones; and drove the hook into the thicker end. He cast my live worm into the water and handed me my cane pole.

“Watch the bobber,” he said, his finger pointing to the water. “When a fish nibbles, let him have a taste, then pull.”

“Okay, Daddy. I will.”

He baited his own hook and cast his line into the water; we sat and fished for hours. From the pine trees around the lake’s edge came nary a sound, only the sound of my father’s breathing. For a moment I forgot to watch my pole. The end splattered into the water, sending dragonflies off their lily pads. “Whoa, watch your fishing pole!” he said, reaching over to steady the cane pole.

Father sat as still as the pines as if time were suspended and our minutes were as countless as summer strawberries. “Daddy,” I rested my cheek against his arm, “are you SURE there’s fish in this cove?” He chuckled and kissed me on the cheek.

Suddenly, the bobber zinged under the water. “It’s a whopper!” he cried. I leaned back into his arms; we pulled together. Breaking through the water, erupting into the glimmer of the morning light, burst the biggest fish I’d ever seen. Father unhooked the shimmering fish. I held my breath, and Father beamed. Neither of us spoke; we just stared at one another. The gift of that afternoon spent with Father was one of the best presents I ever got.

The Author and her Dad – 1999

A teacher’s unexpected whisper, “You’ve got writing talent,” ignited Sara’s writing desire. Sara ignored that whisper and pursued a different career but eventually, she re-discovered her inner writer and began writing. Her manuscripts have been published in anthologies and magazines including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Guideposts, Times They Were A Changing, and Wisdom Has a Voice.

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June 4 – A “Dad-Shaped Hole” in My Heart

by Kali´Rourke

Father’s Day approaches, and although I rejoice in the wonderful Dad that my daughters have, I take no such joy in my own.

He was an unsolvable mystery to me. He married my mother when she was seventeen and they had me when she was nearly nineteen. My only impressions of him as I grew up came from family members who shared stories of his selfish, immature treatment of Mom during their short marriage. He seemed unable to connect emotionally with others, and from an adult perspective, I wonder if he may have been somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Soon after my birth, my mother divorced him and married her next husband. He was the one I would think of as “Dad” until that marriage dissolved when I was about six or seven years old.

My father checked back in briefly when I was fifteen; traveling from Memphis to Tulsa to sue for my custody when my mother temporarily gave my guardianship to my manager. I was a professional singer living in Oklahoma with my manager while my family stayed in Washington.

He strode into the courtroom, acting as his own attorney, and seemed totally oblivious to the realities of the situation (no, my mother was not giving me away) or any emotions I might have about meeting him for the first time. He lost his case, but my manager graciously invited him to her home to meet with me. I sang for him for the first and last time in my life, and tears came to his eyes.

Silly me; I thought we might have connected.

Later, I received a bus ticket to travel to Memphis to spend a week with him and his latest wife (he married multiple times) and I must admit, I was hopeful. My strongest memory of this ill-fated expedition was meeting his wife, who immediately gave me a gift. It was a set of shorty pajamas in bright colors and I was thrilled. I wore them when I went to bed and made sure that they knew that I was delighted with the present.

The next morning, she scolded me for “flaunting myself at my father,” making me feel foolish and ashamed. My father said nothing at all. I called Mom, told her I would be taking the next bus home and left, never to see him again.

I find myself wondering how much emotional damage and insecurity his wife suffered in that marriage. He and I spoke a few times over the phone through the years, (I suspect Grandma made him do it.) but he had no real interest in me or his beautiful granddaughters and I eventually wrote him off.

“Ignore me if you like, but my daughters will never deserve that,” I thought.

When he committed suicide in prison at the age of 59, it was as if a stranger had died, leaving the “Dad-Shaped Hole” in my heart to be forever unfilled.

 

Kali´Rourke is a wife, mother, writer, singer, volunteer, philanthropist, and a proud Seedling Mentor. She blogs at Kali’s Musings and A Burning Journey – One Woman’s Experience with Burning Mouth Syndrome.

June 20 – A Father Extraordinaire

by Patricia Roop Hollinger

William Roger Roop a father extraordinaire
Whatever project he tackled it was done with flair.

Determined was a word that described him well,
When he tackled a project it was accomplished with a spirit you could not quell.

Heifer Project began on his farm,
In spite of neighbors who shook their heads with alarm.

He designed and patented a milking machine,
Even though a high school degree he never gleaned.

His passion was farming–it ran through his veins,
He knew how to guide horses by pulling their reins.

The ponds he had dug were fulfilled wishes,
And he stocked them with a variety of fishes.

He desired a son who would love the farm,
But when three daughters showed up he never expressed his alarm.

Why girls could drive tractors, milk cows, and rake hay,
Women’s role was not just for housework, he would say.

It was in church that Olive Main gave him a wink,
Her forthrightness took him aback and made him think.

“She might be worth checking out for a date,
And I had better do it before it’s too late.”

With just horse and buggy it took awhile,
But when he arrived he was greeted with her stunning smile.

They were married December 27, 1931,
Yippee! Yahoo! He had finally won.

They were married just shy of 70 years,
His death, of course, brought Olive to tears.

However we celebrate his life well lived,
As another Father’s Day has arrived.

Patricia Roop HollingerPatricia Roop Hollinger is the middle daughter of Roger and Olive. She is a retired Chaplain/LCPC from a mental health setting and married her high school heart-throb in 2015 after death of both their spouses. She loves cats, is a voracious reader, a musician, and hospice volunteer, who is now in pursuit of her writing goals.

May 7 – Somebody Stole My Fish

by Nancy Davies

large-mouth-bass

I had a recent interaction with my father that brought about a curious new insight.

He is 88 years old and struggling with Alzheimer’s. He is convinced that there is a thief coming into his house at night and taking his things or sometimes just moving them around. On this particular day he was concerned about a big taxidermied fish that hangs in his office so he moved it into the spare bedroom–hiding it so it would be safe.

Half an hour later he burst into the kitchen declaring: “Somebody stole my fish! I’ve searched my office and it’s gone.”

At the time it was actually kind of amusing, although as I write it down it sounds more sad and distressing. However the flash that struck me that afternoon was that my dad’s actions are not really all that different from actions that most of us might turn to on any given day.

How many of us unwittingly hide things away only to tell ourselves that we’ve been robbed? We hide our feelings, our fears, our creativity, and then wonder who stole our happiness. We bury our truth and can’t imagine where our peace has gone. We disguise our bad decisions then blame someone for hijacking our freedom. You get the picture.

The thief in the night has come calling on many occasions in my lifetime, stealing things both ordinary and precious and usually leaving behind the same riddle for me to solve: where did I hide my fish?

It seems innocent enough but it’s a question that requires a little bit of soul-searching and a whole lot of honesty. It’s about paying attention to that subtle voice that is no longer satisfied to hide behind the fear. It’s about releasing the blame that comes so easy.

But it is also a waking up process and, at the end of the day as the intruder slips away, we are hopefully left with the epiphany that the real treasures in our lives can never be taken from us.

Recently retired, Nancy Davies is rediscovering a love of writing, gardening and long walks with her dog.

July 30 – If Only Dad Knew…

by Pat LaPointe

When I was born on this day in 1949, my father was in freight traffic school and this was the day of his final exam. Every year on my birthday he would call me or I’d call him in later years and I would have to ask one question: “Was it 98 degrees that day and you got a 100 on your test or was it 100 degrees and you got a 98 on your test?” He never gave the same answer each year. But we’d both get a good laugh. Before he suffered from dementia, if I called him, Mom would answer and say “Hold on I’ll get him”. When the dementia worsened and he could barely remember my name let alone our little game, Mom and I would continue to talk about past years, wondering if we’d ever have the answer to that question.

Dad has been gone for a little over a year now. It’s been about 6 years since he understood my question. I still wake up on my birthday and think of our little game. Mom has been gone for nearly four years now and there is no one to share this with.

Today I realized that I could probably get the weather report somewhere online. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. As it turns out it, if I had checked, the mystery would have been solved. The report I found listed 93 degrees as the highest temperature that day. I wish Dad was here so I could tell him it is likely that, considering it was 93 degrees, he must have got a 100 on his test!

Pat is currently the President of SCN and has recently published an anthology: The Woman I’ve Become: 27 Women Share Their Jurneys From Toxic Relationships to Self Empowerment. She is also the editor of a monthly online newsletter for women: Changes In Life.

November 11 – Remembrance Day

by Linda Hoye

In Canada, where I was born and grew up, November 11 is known as Remembrance Day. It is a day set aside to remember those brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom. Members of the Royal Canadian Legion sell poppies and almost everyone wears a poppy on their lapel in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day. It is a statutory holiday and at ceremonies are held all over the country at the eleventh hour of the eleventh month honouring our war dead.

When I was a little girl on the morning of Remembrance Day my dad brought out his war medals and polished them in preparation for wearing them as he marched with other veterans in the parade leading toward the cenotaph. Shortly before eleven o’clock the bugler would play The Last Post and the last mournful note signaled two minutes of silence.

In 1983 when I was twenty-four years old I donated my money to a veteran in the Aberdeen Mall and gently lifted three red poppies from his tray. Dad had died suddenly two months earlier and I was still grieving the loss of the man who had loved me unconditionally and called me his Princess. I led my two children, Laurinda and Michael—then five and three—to the side of the busy mall and knelt in front of them and pinned a poppy on their jackets.

“This is to remember Grandpa.” I told them as I fought back tears.

In later years Michael marched proudly with his Cub Scout pack toward the cenotaph on Remembrance Day and as I stood shivering in the cold November morning I imagined Dad marching right alongside of him—as proud of his grandson as I knew he would have been had he lived long enough for the day.

I live in the United States now and the American Legion doesn’t sell poppies like their Canadian brothers do. I saved one from when we lived in Canada and I will pin it on my lapel before I head out for the day today. I remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us and I remember my dad.

Lest we forget.

Linda Hoye is a writer who still misses her dad twenty-eight years later. She lives in Washington state with her husband and their two doted-upon Yorkshire Terriers, but Saskatchewan, Canada, will always be the home of her heart. Linda blogs at A Slice of Life Writing.