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I Miss My Dad
By Rick Watson
I have a plant in my office at work that I’ve had since May of 1986. I remember the date I got it because the people with whom I work sent it when my Dad died. It was a small green Schefflera plant but now twenty-two years later, it is over 8 feet tall with leaves as big as the soul of my shoe with trunk that twists and turns like a country back road. I’m hesitant to bring it home because there are pulp wood cutters that live nearby and I’m afraid they might break into my house with chainsaws and harvest the Schefflera.
I miss my Dad….As I sit here alone in my office at home working, there are squirrels outside doing an acrobatic circus act just for me. Dad loved the outdoors. He spent every possible moment outside fishing, hunting, or hiking through the forest. Catching fish or “getting a buck” really was not that important to him because being outside communing with nature is where he found peace.
Dad was a welder by trade for “Fly Ash Arrestor,” which was a company that built huge industrial fans. Every evening when he came home from a hard day’s work in Birmingham, we would walk the old red rock road down to the Martin hole which was a wide spot in Horse Creek. The bottom of the Martin Hole was covered with stones rubbed smooth by thousands of years of gentle flowing water.
Honeysuckle grew right up to the edge of the water and there were always dragon flies flitting to and fro. There was also an old bullfrog that lived there that was probably as old as I was at the time. He looked as big as a football and had a deep-throated croak. Dad and I would sit there until dark, watching the critters and listen to the bubbling sound of the creek. It was his way of meditating.
My dad could read, but with only a 5th grade education, he never acquired a love of books, and traveling was rarely an option unless it was work-related, so he spent his spare time on the Warrior River, or in the Sipsey Wilderness, or up on Smith Lake.
Later in life, he had the opportunity to buy a small lot on the Warrior where he built a small frame cabin. Our family spent many enjoyable weekends there. He taught me to water ski and to handle a boat and how to fly fish.
Before he died, he gave me his fly fishing rod and reel. I kept them in the barn until this past summer. For some reason I got fed up with technology so I got out the fly fishing gear, cleaned and oiled the reel and put on new state-of-the-art fishing line.
The spillway just below Smith Dam is only about 15 minutes from my house so Buddy (my fearless K9) and I went there to wet a line. The water coming out of Smith Lake is cold as an iceberg but the sun was warm on my shoulders and it felt great to be standing there waist deep in crystal clear water.
I promptly fell on my rear-end on a slick rock and soaked my old digital camera, my cell phone, my pager and my watch. Oh well, every day’s a school day. I laid the stuff on a rock to dry in the warm sunshine. I heard some old timers just down stream in a boat chuckle at my mishap, but I didn’t care. It was almost as if my father was there with me….he would have said “don’t mind them. Every fisherman worth his salt has busted his butt on a slick rock”
I smiled at the thought and waded further into the water.
As I fell into the rhythm of casting the weightless fly, time seemed to stand still. I looked up and saw a great blue heron glide effortlessly down the stream and all was good with the world.
I didn’t catch any trout, but that didn’t matter to me because for those few hours out there casting in that stream made me feel close to nature.....and closer to my Dad.

 

 
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