5 August 2015

RIP, Dad.

Today is the nineteenth anniversary of my father's death. There are those among us, a fortunate few, who can say that the best man they ever knew was the first. I am such a one. RIP, old man.

I remember one of the last times I went to visit him up north where he rented a cottage. He was on Pigeon Lake for the annual two week fishing trip. It was and is a popular spot for fishermen. The prize fish in the lake are the muskellunge, or musky, for short. Many fishermen spend year...s trying to catch one and never even get a bite. But what dad wanted was fish to eat, not hang on his wall, so he was looking for walleye, not musky. If he caught a musky, he would just throw it back in.

I arrived at the cottage, where mother was working on some of her watercolours, talked to her for a few minutes, then asked where dad was. She told me he had gone to the office to take care of some business. So I went to the office to say hello. Dad was there, talking with some men who had just arrived for their vacation. Dad had already been there for a week, so they asked him how the fishing was.

"Terrible!" he growled. "All last week I've caught nothing but musky. One after the other. Just musky, musky, musky. I've caught nineteen last week! Nineteen!"

He continued on in that vein for some time, oblivious to the expression on the other men's faces. They could not believe someone would be complaining about repeatedly catching the fish they dreamed of landing. I could see their bewilderment growing to consternation, and I realised this was not going to end well. I returned to the cottage. If he was going to open that can of worms, he was on his own.

I miss the old coot. His gruffness, his kindness, his brilliant ability to tell stories, and his almost supernatural capacity to put his foot in his mouth.

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