Marie has always loved to fish, and would spend hours at home fishing in the pond in the backyard. While at residential school, she has not had this opportunity. So, after last week’s fishing mis-adventure, Marie and I went today to a nice, official “fishing spot”, (not the water reservoir.) It was a beautiful 80 degree day as we found the perfect spot in the shade alongside a small, tranquil lake. Despite being near a city, the lake was apparently house-less and had the appearance of being way out in the country. The fish were apparently starving because as soon as Marie dropped the worm in the water, the bobber would go under and she would be reeling in a fish…a SMALL fish, but a fish none-the-less. She would expertly take the hook out of its mouth, and throw it back in to be caught again…again…again, and yet again…
Sitting on the grass, looking up at the azure blue sky, with clouds so white and puffy they looked like you could pluck them out of the sky and eat them like cotton candy, I watched Marie in her excitement as she caught the fish. It was silent except for the sound of birds chirping…many DIFFERENT types of bird noises so that the first time in my life I was aware that they actually made distinct sounds and they did not all sound alike. And the breeze ever so slightly rustled the leaves. Lazing in this wonderfully peaceful terrain, I let all of my worries and thoughts just drift away until I filled with the joy of nature and this amazing love I have for this daughter who has had such a difficult early life, but who seemed to be so relaxed and carefree while she was fishing. The feeling was not unlike the feeling one gets when meditating, but it was so much more! Not only was I relaxed and worry free, but I was also filled with such an innermost love that I felt my heart would burst if I broke the reverie. It wasn’t only a love for Marie, but a love for everything in my life. A warm, gushing, face turning red, eyes tearing up, love. And my thoughts turned to my dad…
For those who have not read my book, you may not know that I had a very unconventional childhood, roaming the country with my parents and brother. My father was…odd…uncommunicative…obsessed…paranoid…”crazy”… My mom simply explained that he had returned from World War II “shell shocked”, but his love for her had never changed. Satisfied that that love was enough, my mom married him, and the two of them had a long and happy marriage. She understood him, where I, as a child, did not. I did, however, grow accustomed to his strange ways. He never demonstrated any affection towards me or my brother, and never said he loved us. ”That’s just your father,” my mom would explain, and I would accept it. He would not attend any childhood award ceremonies, or graduation, or baptism of my children. ”That’s just your father,” my mom would explain, and I would accept it. He would get upset if we spent too much money on toilet paper, or bread, or hot water. ”That’s just your father,” my mom would explain. And I DID understand. And I DID think that, deep down, he loved me, he just never said it.
But, until this day fishing with Marie, I had completely forgotten the times he and I had gone fishing, the one activity we did together. He liked to fish, and I rarely had anything better to do, so I would join him. Almost silently, he showed me how to bait a hook and how to take the fish off the hook. We would sit for hours on a lake with his small aluminum boat with the small, electric trolling motor. Anywhere we were in the country, he could find a lake. We would sit and enjoy this pastime, quietly, peacefully, and productively catching fish after fish after fish, all which were gently and carefully returned to the water, unharmed, and bellies a little fuller with a worm. I learned about the habitat of a large variety of fish; catfish, eels, pickerel, sunfish, pike, trout, bass and perch, (which we both agreed was our least favorite to catch because they were so EASY!) I could see now where this activity would quiet his bad memories, enabling him to relax and find a little piece in this crazy world. To sit quietly on a calm lake, looking up at the azure blue sky, with clouds so white and puffy they looked like you could pluck them out of the sky and eat them like cotton candy. The boat rocking every so slightly and little waves splashing against the aluminum making a tinkling sound. I realize that maybe he felt the same way I did today while fishing with Marie, and it was a comforting thought to think that I shared such a peaceful time with him.
And I could feel now that he loved me…
To read about my early childhood adventures, here is a link to my book:
The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane
Link to the Readers Digest review of my book: http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/