Today, I am thinking of my Dad - he was the greatest! My very first memory is of dad. I was 2 years old in my crib - it was either very early in the morning or late (it was dark) when the door opened. I remember his silhouette in the doorway - daddy... He walked in the room, bent over my crib and said "Donna, you want to go fishing?"
I thought I had dreamt that for the longest time, until I told Mom, who told me, "yes, Daddy used to take you fishing all the time. He'd get you dressed, pack a lunch and leave a note on the fridge 'Mom, took Donna fishing'". And off we'd go.
Dad always loved fish and loved to fish. He subscribed to two publications that he read cover to cover - Field & Stream and National Geographic (he killed us in the geography category of Trivial Pursuit). My brother Mark was a "bonus baby" - a full 20 years younger than I. Mom, Dad and Mark must have circled the Great Lakes 3 times on their camping vacations. Always looking for the one that couldn't get away. Setting up the huge, blue and white striped circus tent in the woods. I don't know if dad knew it was blue and white - he was color blind - but I think it must have always been the only one in a campground, maybe the state.
Most of the time they got those fish but on one particular day, they got skunked. Mark, as luck would have it, was the only one who caught anything - his first fish - all 3" of it. He was a headstrong child and insisted that he keep his very first fish so dad relented - the only time I can remember he ever broke the law. When they returned to the dock, Mark insisted that dad clean his fish. Okay, let's teach the kid how it's done.
The way you clean a fish is simple but involves a few steps - after step one, Mark decided he didn't really want any part of it, promptly abandoned Dad (and his precious first fish) and ran off to make some new friends. Dad, never one to shirk a task, continued, alone, to clean that minnow. Scales off, head off, cut the belly, remove the guts, wash it and you're done. It just seemed wrong to toss the minnow in the trash as anyone else would have done but not my Dad - once he started something, he finished it.
People are so wonderful, so sympathetic, the "plight" of my family did not go unnoticed. How terrible that those people have only that minnow to eat! So, that night 3 people searched the campground for my folks - bringing fish for my family to eat! People can be so compassionate.
Dad was not only a fisherman, he was an artist. Not the conventional artist - no smock, no paint palette. His art was the restoration of crashed up cars - he was a body and fender man and he was a great one. He loved his work, he talked about the tolerance of metal, just how much you could stress it before it would give. He talked about what a really good paint job was. He appreciated art and craftsmanship and always supported our efforts.
Of all the gifts my dad gave me, perhaps the very best gift was the peace he left behind. No words unspoken, no turmoil between we children, no wondering if he loved us, no wondering if we'd disappointed him. He was an exceptional father, he was an exceptional man, he was gentle, loving and kind, he was our rock and our example and you know, he still is. We sure miss you, Pop.
Happy Father's Day! If you're lucky enough to have your Dad, give him a great big hug from me!
Donna Kato is one of the founders of CraftEdu, has her own brand of polymer clay (Kato Polyclay by Van Aken, Int.), is an author and teacher - on the road and online.
Workshops at CraftEdu