(Author’s Note: The following is from my writing archives (circa 1988). I post it in honor of my stashed-away memories—of my dad, of spending my best Father’s Days in Rangeley—and, especially, of Helen and Becky and their awesome fishing/adventure buddy, Tom.)
Mom said I should make you a special Father’s Day card ’cause I’m such a good drawer. Plus I’m the big sister and little Becky can’t really hold onto a crayon yet, never mind write big girl words. Mom used to let me just point at cards in the store and then she’d buy whichever one sounded pretty good, but she doesn’t let me do that since I won that Mother’s Day card contest at Hannaford. Now I gotta send my very best to everyone.
I did sneak a peak at the store cards, though—the ones Mom says tons of dads would be opening up all across America the same time as you. Know what? Mom was right. None of ’em were really for you, Dad. They all had pictures of golf clubs or cartoon puppies holding up hearts or just “Father” in gold, squiggly letters. I only found one that showed a guy on a pond early in the morning but there wasn’t one trout rising, so that wasn’t any good, either! After all, Father’s Day is for fishin’ with your dad, right? Why else would it be on a Sunday in June?
So I started drawing some fish to decorate your card, but they sort of looked like hot dog buns with wings. Then I got a better idea. Remember how Wheaties stopped putting pictures of basketball players—and that little Mary Lou something or other from the Olympics who was kind of like Minnie Mouse in a leotard—on their cereal boxes?Remember how they just left a white place on the front and everyone was supposed to draw in their own faces? Well, we have a box that Mom’s been trying to make me eat ever since I begged for it in the store. She says it’s the breakfast of champions. I asked her if a champion was somebody who liked old flaky stuff with no sugar on it. She said: “No, it’s someone who plays a sport better than anybody else. Now eat up or you’ll be late for school.” So Dad, I drew you in the face on the box, with your fishin’ hat and your pole, and that silly grin you get when you pull in a lunker. It came out real nice and I was gonna cut it out for you. But then Mom hollered ’cause I’d been sitting there in my pajamas drawing for a really long time, and she grabbed the box and stuffed it back in the cupboard. That’s O.K., though, ’cause we should finish the Wheaties before I cut the box open, and you’ll probably need some this weekend to give you big muscles for turning that huge crank on your boat trailer. I betcha Michael Jordan can’t pull a boat right up out of water like that!
Mom says I’m pretty lucky you take me fishin’ all the time cause lots of dads go off by themselves instead. Wouldn’t that be kinda boring though? You wouldn’t have anybody to talk to just floating around all day alone. And who’d share their cheese curls with you and get your beers out of the cooler and tell you knock-knock jokes?
Thanks, Dad, for being my fishin’ pal. You’re the nicest guy in the whole world. Someday I hope you buy me one of those vests with the tiny pockets all over it just like yours ’cause I bet I could fit about 20 hundred mini Snickers in there and I’d never hafta go in for supper. Maybe when I’m seven or eight, O.K.? Boy, when I was four, I didn’t even know how to get the line to come off the fishin’ pole out into the water without making a helluva mess, remember? Now look at me, I can do it so good that my hook goes to the very bottom, right down in the rocks and weeds, and stays there. Maybe next summer you’ll let me push all those neat buttons on your boat. Like on that beeping box in front of your seat you said helps us find fish, and that giant up and down humming reel off the back of the boat you’re always playing with to catch ’em once you find ’em. How do they work…sort of like magic? If I push the buttons, too, maybe we’ll really find some fish!
You show me lots of things when we’re out fishin’, like how important it is not to talk to people we’ve never seen before. It was a good thing you didn’t answer that man over at Quimby Pond when he asked you what you were catchin’ all your trout with. You acted like you didn’t even hear him, which was very smart ’cause he was a stranger.
I want you to have the best Father’s Day ever, Dad. Maybe we could take the canoe down the Salmon Falls River to that cove where I went swimming once by accident. It was all mucky and weedy and you said pickerel like that kinda stuff. Too bad Mom didn’t. Or maybe we’ll try Winnipesaukee. I like it there ’cause it’s fun to watch all those boats racing around. Mom calls ’em “fancy assed” because they’re way sparklier than our boat and must remind her of the time I dumped glitter all over the kitchen floor. Do you think Don Johnson is a bass fisherman? I’m pretty sure I saw him go by last time we were out. Boy, I bet his kid was having a blast!
No matter where we go, I don’t want you to sit and worry about work and whatever it is you do there. And I sure hope we can find a spot where there’s not too much wind, where the water’s not too warm or too cold, and where there’s lots and lots of fish biting all around our boat. That’s what I’m wishing for you on Father’s Day, Dad, ’cause you sure deserve it.