By Diana Lee
"Didn't I tell you not to cast your line into the rocks!" my father's voice thundered across the river. "I don't know how it got there," I answered as innocently as I could. Setting down his fishing pole, he climbed boulders and skipped over stones to reach me. His forehead furrowed in deep creases as he examined my plight while shaking his head in dismay. For the next half hour -- he was hard at work tugging and jerking the taut line, trying to free it from a stubborn snag somewhere beneath the rocks.
"Didn't you hear me tell you to rewind your line when the seaweeds were floating down current!" hollered my father over the pounding waves slamming against the shore. "But my cast was way beyond the seaweeds!" I shouted back, attempting to justify my disobedience. "Why is it CAUGHT then?" His volume was now two notches higher. All I could do was shrug my shoulders. I had made him abandon his fishing rod to extricate my fishing line from a clump of seaweed.
On one trip, I remember how my brother changed the color of my father's face -- from red to purple. "Didn't I warn you not to cast overhead when you're standing in a row of fishermen because you'll hurt somebody!" He gritted his teeth as he spoke. "Sorry, didn't mean to do it," said Ed, my younger brother. He'd swung wide, inadvertently swooped a hat off a man's head and then dropped it 25 feet into the murky water below the pier. My father had to soothe the irate and hatless owner with an apology and money.
My father passed away recently, leaving us with the best memories of those childhood days. Fishing was his favorite sport and what he knew best. As a merchant marine, he was seldom home. I remember Ed and I, starting at the ages of six and eight, always looked forward to his homecoming, for we knew that he'd take the whole family fishing. Wherever we went -- beaches, piers, lakes, or rivers -- my father lugged all the fishing gear, my mother trailed behind carrying a sumptuous lunch (and a first-aid kit), and Ed and I ran around excitedly, betting on who was going to catch the biggest fish of the day. As children, we always found these trips fun and exhilarating.
After our first few fishing trips together, we inflicted more than just headaches on our father, including severe damage to his fishing equipment -- rods snapped in two, reels jammed with tangled lines, and a tackle box depleted of weights and hooks. It was on the later trips that my father decided to save his fishing gear at all cost. Whenever we hit a snag, he'd trudge through muddy riverbeds, climb dangerous heights to fetch fishing lines caught in tree branches, or swim after seaweeds just to save a few tackles. However, he generously compensated the victims of our inadequate fishing skills -- often with the day's catch or cash -- after we'd flung bait into a person's face, hooked a bystander's clothing, or landed fish in someone's hair. Between Ed and me, we kept our poor father so busy rescuing us from snags, entanglements, and embarrassing situations that he never had a chance to catch anything on his own.
My father was usually a quiet and patient man. However, when it came to fishing, he became loud and talkative, often scolding us when we got into trouble. But we knew that he'd resume his normal disposition at the end of the day.
My favorite moments were the numerous times during a reprimand when my father looked down at me with a stern red face and fiery eyes: "What did I tell you NOT to do?" Lowering my head, I mumbled, "I forgot." Finally, he managed to yank my fishing line free and started reeling it in. I could hear his voice booming overhead as he enunciated each word, "I told you again and again, don't cast into..." Suddenly, he stopped. I glanced up and saw his eyes widen and a broad smile follow. I knew I was going to be forgiven. At the very end of my fishing line, there it was -- a dangling fish!!!
Copyright © 2005 UniOrb All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced without special permission.
Return to Top
Go to WRITINGS Go to UNIORB HOME Page
Go to WRITINGS
Go to UNIORB HOME Page