Monday, April 11, 2011

Powerful Genetics

Let me set the scene for you with some key ingredients:
  • Dad
  • Son
  • Fishing Hole
  • Fishing Gear
  • Plenty of bait snaring foliage
  • Support failure
  • A good fall
  • Splashing
  • Hurt pride with a few bruises and scrapes
  • Realization of weakness
In 1985 or thereabouts all those ingredients came together to make a lasting impression and memory for me.  My dad took me to our favorite fishing hole where we were known to snag over 15 perch in a one hour sitting.  On this particular day we went on the high side of the bank which was much more challenging terrain and many more opportunities for getting the line caught.  But we took the chance certain that a huge fish was hiding on that side of the hole.  Soon I had my line in a small sapling and asked my dad to get me free. 

The rest happened in slow motion for me.  Dad had to get on tip toe to reach the line and as he did so, he put some weight on the sapling in hopes of support.  He didn't get it.  Soon he was hurdling toward the water and making splashdown.  I used to imagine the depths of this hole being monumental and some of the fiercest of oversized fish living on its bottom.  So my childhood nightmare was for me or someone else to fall in.

Thankfully my dad swam to the opposing shore, got out and had more of his pride hurt than any physical pains.  That and he had to explain why he was soaking wet when we got back to camp.  I remember my uncles giving him a really hard time about it.  But I wasn't laughing.  Not at all.  For me...my hero had fallen.  His bullet proof exterior had been penetrated and a weakness had been revealed.  This was my rock.  The man that never got lost, that never made mistakes, that never fell into fishing holes.  Their pokes at his expense just made me all the more upset at the realization that dad was allergic to kryptonite.

Well DNA is a funny thing or perhaps the craziest of coincidences happened just yesterday.  All the same ingredients from before but now son had become dad.  Michael and I had cast a line into a neighborhood fishing hole.  After several tries without so much as a bite we decided the opposite shoreline looked more promising and made the trek.  A few casts into this idea we got hung up in some thorn bushes.  Fearful that said thorns could cut the line and cause me to lose a very new lure, I decided it was best to try and reach the line by hand instead of pulling violently on the pole.  There was a rock just a step away from me but out in the middle of the water.  If I could just step on it, the lure would be within reach and easily freed.

I made it to the rock but apparently this platform rested precariously on some no-so-stable mud.  It shifted with my weight and I made splashdown like my father before me.  I somehow managed to find my legs before letting my entire body be submerged but I was wet enough.  My arms took a trip through the thorn bush, my sunglasses sunk to the depths, and as I tried to walk out of the water the suction grabbed one of my flip flops and held it ransom.

Bleeding and bent over trying to find my shoe and sunglasses I suddenly became aware of my son's stare and consequential horror.  His hero had fallen.  He spent the better part of the rest of the day telling me how upset and sorry he was that I fell into that water.  He didn't appreciate the ribbing that my wife gave me any more than I appreciated the jokes at my dad's expense.  But now being on this side of it, I must admit...it's funny. I will hope and assume that his continued processing of that moment will lead him to the same conclusion I made about my dad:

He is still my hero even unto this day.  Revealed weaknesses or chinks in the armor in some ways just made him all the tougher.  I soon discovered that dad could take his licks be they from a sapling or from a group a mocking family members.  Though I never wanted to carry on this particular tradition, I suppose the acorn never falls far from the tree...er...um...pond.

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