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Father’s Day

June 2015

by Michael O’Brien


Father’s Day is soon upon us. I’m away this year and won’t be able to be with my daughters which is not so much fun, but knowing they’re safe and building their lives is some comfort.

On Father’s Day I think about my dad, mostly because the last few of his Father’s Days we spent together up at the lake.  Sometimes we’d golf in Bigfork, a little golf course without many challenges beyond chipmunk holes, occasional mosquito clouds, and a persistent 20 mph wind from the north.  We’d play golf on windy days because it was too rough to fish; the upwind drives turned into chip shots, and the downwind drives would usually blow past the greens. Dad wouldn’t keep score other than by counting how many balls I hit in the water…he usually kept his in play. The little clubhouse shack had a few microwaveable burritos and cokes, and the last year we golfed, they had a cart working so we could ride instead of walk.

We’d have had breakfast at the laundromat/cafe in Marcel; Dad would get his eggs over; I’d get mine scrambled.  The bacon was always good, the pies and cinnamon rolls always tempting, and the thrum of the machines was never drowned out by local conversation.

After golf we’d sometimes make the run to the rapids for parts or to pick up a motor found not working after winter storage.  I think most years I’d get Dad a deep cycle trolling battery: they seemed to not take the winters well up there,and not hold charge very long.

All this started around 5:30 in the morning---there was no sleeping in on vacation!  So by the time breakfast, golf and the drive to the rapids happened, it would be time for a late lunch at the diner. Last stop was the IGA store for groceries then back home for evening fishing.

The next day was usually a workday---fixing, charging, framing, trimming, mowing, splitting or rearranging the parking order of the tractors, which involved more charging, changing gas filters, jumpstarting, tire filling and sometimes hydraulic surprises.  I think the point was to get every bit of equipment up and running just in case we needed three tractors. I never questioned, just got the tools and went to work.  We had an unwritten rule that only one of us at a time could get frustrated with a bolt or clamp to the point of cussing.  The other person’s job was to be heads up for where the wrench would land after being flung, fetch it, and enter the fray with the machine until it was wrench flinging time again.  Then the other person had to be standing by with cold rootbeers to sip on and regroup.

Evenings would usually be playing cards after fishing (if the wind was right) until the sun set, the frogs croaked and the mosquitos massed for attack. Then we’d do it all again….

I know that lake pretty well, but without Dad it’s not the same.

Being away on Father’s Day took something from my daughters. I know that and that the world has changed now, but I think of them daily; I see the sparkle in their eyes, the looks that speak volumes, and the groans that come along after a good bad pun.

Heard another few good ones from the one who holds my heart’s son: “What do you call a fish with no eyes? ‘Fsh’” and “What does a fish say when it swims into a wall?  ‘Dam!’”

Think about it: think of your dad wherever he is.  That’s all we want for Father’s Day.