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Fishing With Father

by Bob Valleau  
1/18/2017 / Humor


Fishing with my father was a religious experience. In fact, he said he felt closer to God while fishing than he did while sitting in church. I guess that was a good excuse as any to skip church on Sundays. But dad wasn't alone. You could find many fishing fanatics on any given Midwestern Sunday morning. Dad would say, "The lake is our church, the bank is our pew, and I'm the pastor of hook, line and sinker." Like Jonah and the whale, I had visions of my dad being swallowed by a giant fish and spat out three days later.

As a kid, I never liked fishing. I guess because nearly every weekend my whole family arose before the rooster crowed. We piled into the car, and then we headed off to "church." Along the way we had to sing, at the top of our lungs, our traditional traveling hymn - the Crawdad Song: "You get a line and I'll get a pole, honey. You get a line and I'll get a pole, babe. You get a line and I'll get a pole, we'll go fishin' in the crawdad hole. . .honey, baby mine."

When we arrived at the lake, Dad would drive around and get a "feel" for where he thought was a good place for us to plunk down our lines. Sometimes he would mumble something out loud and drive to a secluded area. I don't know if he was talking to God at this time or communicating with the fish. Often, we had to park the car and take a long trek through a wooded area, swatting bugs along the way, just to find the right spot.

Once we settled onto a "pew," the real fun began: no talking, and be patient for something to happen. Both of these were hard for me to do when I was seven, eight, nine and ten. However, I did the best I could because my reward would be a "church picnic" that would start at noon. Our picnic consisted of Dad serving burgers he proudly flipped on our Coleman stove accompanied by beans and chips.

But as much as I dreaded fishing with my dad, I was glad to be with him whenever he had a divine visitation: a big fish dangling on the end of his line. There were many times when my dad caught a big fish, or he caught a lot of fish that provided us meals for the next week. These are moments I remember him being the happiest. In his own way, I guess he felt good that he was able to provide food for his family and have fun doing it.

After I grew up and left home, my dad continued his fishing habit with my two younger sisters. When they left home, "church attendance" was almost nonexistant. In his latter years of life, he hardly attended "church" due to a debilitating disease, yet occasionally you could find him watching his favorite television fishing show.

When my dad died, I wished I could have written his epitaph. It probably would have been something like this:

Here lies our father who loved to fish
W
e pray God grants him his lifelong wish
A fisherman at heart forever he will be
His wish was to fish throughout eternity

Bob Valleau has over 30 years of writing experience for the Christian market. He was once named Christian Writer of the Year (San Antonio, Texas) by the American Christian Writers Association. He is the author of four books.

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