Some Facts about Fishing with my Father

My Father died late last week. He had been bed-ridden and miserable for months. Below is the poem I wrote and read at his Memorial service.

This is mostly for those present who wanted a copy.

 

Some Facts about Fishing with my Father

 

(As read at his memorial service – 20 November, 2013)

 

 

My earliest memories of my father

are watching football with him,

meaning he sat on the couch trying

to watch the game while his son

Orbited that couch like a tiny hurricane.

 

As I grew older he tried

to teach me how to fish,

meaning he sat on the shore demonstrating

whatever he did with lines and hooks while his son

Bounced around the rocks like a hyperactive frog.

 

I am hyperactive;

a fact like the color of my eyes.

So my father, a problem-solver by trade, adapted to this fact.

We would go hiking,

meaning he would huff up the trail while his son

Orbited around him through the wilderness.

 

One of my last boyhood memories

of my father

is the backpacking expedition

I talked him into.

There was no orbiting.

I packed a bag nearly as heavy as I was

I picked the route

and got us lost

(foreshadowing much of my future)

but we laughed together

that night in the wilderness

Shortly before he disappeared from my life.

My father was a workaholic;

a fact like the color of his hair.

Unemployment led to depression led

to a running vehicle in a closed garage.

 

I was one step into manhood when

his letter reached me

with the story of how he came out

from that dark room full of poison.

“I realized,” he wrote, “that the problem

had been myself all along.

I was the problem.

And that was a problem I could solve.”

The man who found his way

out of that garage

is the one most of us here remember.

It is a fact that I did not grow up

with my father

and observed his life as much as a

cautionary tale than as a

model to emulate.

Yet

the man had his moments;

more than I give him credit for.

He told me once

perhaps to stop my whining

as he picked the fishing hook oout of my jacket:

“It’s all hard.

All of it.

But when you realize that,

It starts to get easier.”

In later years, I would realize his secret

about that backpacking trip:

we were never lost.

He let me think we were lost

to see if I could figure it out

like fathers do.

Now, a good preacher

could teach a lesson here

about how Our Father lets us

lose our way in the wilderness

To see if we can figure it out.

 

My father was such a preacher,

once upon a time,

but his son is a poet.

poets just blurt out secrets

Trying to set up the punch-line.

 

So…

 

I am an outdoorsman

who never learned to fish.

A stigma in some circles

and totally my fault.

 

I am also a Cowboys fan

who does not live in Dallas

A stigma in many circles

and that ….

 

That I can blame totally

on my father.

Totally.

By Tony Padegimas

http://www.turrentinejacksonmorrow.com/obituaries/wayne-padegimas-48928

 

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