Fathers day was officially added to the US calendar by Congress in June 1956 nearly 30 years after President Coolidge first encouraged states to recognize the third Sunday in June as a Special day for fathers.
As a father I know that Fathers Day is more about children being excited about Dad’s than it is about Dad’s being excited about being Dad’s – although I can’t think of anything more important to me.
My own father took me fishing as often as he could when I was young and then took me hunting as I got older.
I remember sitting on the river bank with my dad. He’d always stop and buy a 6 pack of Pepsi in glass bottles and doughnuts for the days outing. (I didn’t say he was a nutritionist, I just said he took me fishing).
We would sit there on the bank and cast worms for trout. Our fishing days weren’t extravagant and they didn’t include the latest and greatest fishing tackle or lures. We didn’t have a fancy boat with electronic gadgets nor did we have a camera, probably because we couldn’t afford the film. So I’m forced to dig through my memories to recall the smell of chewing tobacco and that old school camouflaged hat my Dad always wore.
We would catch fish on occasion but poor fishing was the norm. I didn’t care as long as I was with my Dad. Every year he would take me fishing on the ocean. It was a big deal to go fishing on a big boat together. I looked forward to that annual trip as much as Christmas and Easter Sunday.
The authors Father in the photo on the left as a young man. The author on the right when he was finally old enough to go annual fishing trip to the ocean somewhere around 1984.
As time went on I grew into a teenager and my Dad began to slow down. He still made time for me no matter how rebellious I became. There was just one thing we could always count on doing together. It was an excuse to spend time – one on one. Time that I cherish and time that changed my life forever. We’d go fishing. Or hunting. Or trapping. Or whatever as long as it was outdoors.
The years went on and my fathers hair grayed. He couldn’t walk as far anymore and it was me who had to carry the weight of heavy tackle boxes and gas cans. We had a boat now and trolling took the place of walking river banks. It was nice. New memories of the smell of gasoline, downriggers and that crusty old shirt he always wore were born.
More years went by. We still fished. I graduated college and instead of sitting in a boring graduation hall on my final day we went fishing in a small lake with Dad’s john boat and a 3 horse Mercury. It was May and the water was high. But we fished anyway. It didn’t matter if the fish were biting. We spent that day together.
The Authors Son 2016.
This morning, Fathers day morning, 2016 my four year old son handed me my fathers day presents.
I wish my Dad were still here to see the gifts his grandson just handed me: four Bobbers, a jar of trout bait and 500 water balloons. He picked them out all by himself. It looks like he wants nothing more than to spend some time outdoors with me.
With his simple gifts, my son reminded me just what Fathers Day is all about. And he reminded me about all the days my own father spent on time with me.
With his simple gifts my son reminded me that my Dad is right here, in the gift of sharing my time with my son, on this special day, that I will spend with my son doing something, anything outdoors.
Thank you Dad. Happy Fathers Day.
(Toby Trigger is an Outdoor Writer and an outdoor Dad from Western Montana)