|I Miss My Dad
By Rick Watson
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.