Skip to main content

Dad's Fish

My dad caught the biggest rainbow trout of his life, and he was so excited that he threw his fishing rod down and clamored up the riverbank and put the fish in the trunk and said, Come on, let's go.


I said, What about your rod? and he said, I won't be needing that anymore. After catching a fish like this, what's the point?


We drove into town and turned on a side street, then pulled up in front of a sign that read, Taxidermy. My dad told the man inside that he wanted the fish mounted no matter how much it cost, and the man grinned and said, Give me two weeks.


Dad was a wreck for the two long weeks of waiting. As the estimated time drew closer, he didn't eat nor sleep, he just paced the floor, waiting for the telephone to ring, with a voice on the other end saying, Come pick up your fish. Finally, that call came, and when it did, my dad ran out the door and dove in his old car, and liked to have lost it as he tore out of our yard on two wheels.


When he returned home, not a word was said. He held the fish up to show my mother, his head held high, but his face solemn, in reverence of the great fish. My mother just nodded, then went back to ironing, mumbling something about a lack of money, a leaky roof and a child in desperate need of braces.


He searched for a perfect spot on the wall to hang the trout, a place where he could sit and admire it in the best light. Dad held it up himself, but couldn’t get a good perspective unless he could step back and look, so he made me hold the fish mounted to a piece of wood up and he’d say, A little to the left… No… A little bit to the right. All the while, the backs of my arms burning, turning to jelly, while he cocked his head to one side and squinted.


The perfect place ended up being right in his line of sight from his recliner, on a wall where  photos of my brother and me as babies, memorable vacations we took, and my parents wedding pictures once hung.


At night, he would take the fish down from the hanger and gently place the trout in the bed between him and my mother, then crawl in and nestle up beside it and go to sleep. My mother would be forced to hug her edge of the bed, or get poked in the back with the piece of wood.You never pay me any attention, my mother would say,and dad would pull the fish to him and begin to snore.


First thing in the morning, Dad would hang the fish back up and take a seat in the recliner. That became his daily routine. No more work, or bowling, or even ballgames on TV. My mother worked long hours just so that she didn’t have to see my father’s state of trance.


My brother and I would ask him advice, or tell him a joke, or show him our report cards, but he just looked over our shoulders at the trout on the wall. Days turned into weeks, weeks into whole seasons and we accepted things as they were. My mother would make attempts to draw his attention, but, nothing. His mind was focused on the pink and silvery sides of the trout of his dreams.


My brother and I grew up and found our own way and left home. My mother gave up and left to find a better life elsewhere. My dad grew old and wrinkled long before his time, sitting there. The only difference for him was that there was more room for the fish in the bed since my mother’s departure.


I dropped by today for a visit and had to let myself in. There he sits now, gazing up at the trout, his eyes fixed. It was all he ever wanted, so it seems. Our life has passed by in an instant, all he saw of it was from the corner of his eye. From that same eye now runs a tear, not for what was, but for what could have been.





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

After Dark

I stayed up way too late last night. Chase called on his way home from work and told me that we were going catfishing. That's usually how things like this begin.

My brand new son- in- law Bryan was going too, although my daughter wasn't crazy about the idea. No worries though, she would stay at our house and await his return. She ended up asleep on my side of the bed until we got back. Apparently, their agreed upon curfew was 11:30, and he did his best to keep it despite Chase's nudging him to stay longer. My son has no concept of time when it comes to fish, whether they are biting or not.

So there we stood in the dark, on a bridge that crosses the Tyger  River. Every creature that flies or creepeth upon the ground was out. The noise from insects and frogs in the surrounding swamp was deafening. Chase was our catfish guide. He'd brought all the rods, bait and any tackle we might need. Chase's bait of choice was chunks of chicken breast marinated in his secret formu…

A Letter To My Father

Two years ago, this very night, you were still here among the living. You had no idea of what was to come in the early hours of the morning, but I know you had some inkling. You'd been talking about it for a while, and the Sunday before, I was told that you 'd made things right.Your mind and body were weak from fighting to hold onto your spirit, but your spirit was so much stronger, and it was determined to be set free. Your pain would soon be over, but you liked to fight, always did. You were the most stubborn human being that I have ever known, and I know that at the end, you were no different. I'm sure it wasn't your choice to go, despite all those times you cried, saying you wanted to die and be put out of your misery. When the medics had worked so long on you and decided to give up on you, your heart started back beating, as if out of spite.  I wonder sometimes what those last few hours were like for you. I wish I could've been there for you, like all the time…

Working Together

My dad passed away on this date, three years ago . I'll admit that I still have a hard time with it, knowing that I'll never see him again or talk to him in this lifetime. You always hear that time heals the heart, and the pain has faded some, but you never truly get over losing a loved one. What I am left with are the memories, for better or for worse. In my head, I can faintly see his face, can almost make out the sound of his voice among the the many others that have stayed with me through the years. Sometimes I try to remember certain things he said, and when I can't, it drives me crazy. There are things that I have wanted to tell him since he passed, but can't. I have questions about things that only he would know the answer to, but I am left wondering now for the rest of my life, with no access to that answer. I've ran into trouble with a car engine, or air conditioning unit, or electrical panel, and my life- line that was always just a phone call away, is no…