The lesson was never about fish, was it?

By Maura Wery

My dad definitely doesn’t get enough credit. Not that he’s screaming about the injustice or demanding that I thank him for all the life lessons I’ve learned from him in my 23 years on this planet, but my dad — and my mother, for that matter — have definitely been selfless teachers.

My father is a simple man and doesn’t have to overdo things to get his point across, which is why I probably remember most of the things my dad taught me as a child and young adult, rather than the classes I took in high school and college.

I recently realized how much I remember those lessons in my everyday life and how big of an impression my father has actually made on my life.

Last week, I wrote a story about Rocky Ford. My news editor suggested that since I had never been out to that fishing area before to go check it out. Unfortunately, the day that I decided to go was a rainy, cold Wednesday.

I’m not an outdoors kind of person. My idea of roughing it is being in a hotel without Wi-Fi for a weekend.

The last place I really want to be is outside, in the rain, next to smelly lake water, but it wasn’t always like this.

You see, when I was a kid, my dad and I would get up before dawn and go fishing.

My dad had a somewhat rickety boat, and I complained about wearing a life jacket — which in my dad’s world was non-negotiable, even when I got older — but those memories are some of the most vivid and dear to my childhood.

I learned many things on that boat. For instance, the best conditions for fishing are when the sun hasn’t come up and when it is raining. If it got too hot too early, the fish would swim to the bottom of the lake and you couldn’t catch one to save your life.

The lessons were more than about fishing, though, even if I didn’t realize it then, and one of the best things about those early mornings was the fact that I was spending time with my dad.

Growing up, I had a handful of friends who didn’t have involved fathers.

Whether they were working hard or just not around, I felt incredibly lucky later on to have a father who both wanted to be there and made time to do so.

I can still remember an argument between my father and me in which he said that he would never not care about what was going on in my life.

At the time, I found that extremely irritating (as only a 16-year-old can), but now that I’ve grown up and matured a lot, I’ve realized how amazing that statement is.

On that Wednesday last week, I watched a young boy and a man I assumed to be his father out casting lines across the water.

I felt a familiar warmth from my childhood in that scene. I know the kind of love that comes from an experience like that one and honestly, it really made me miss that.

I’m sure if I asked my dad to go fishing at Rocky Ford he’d probably go, even if we were never really ‘fish from the bank’ kind of people.

My dad and I may not fish like we used to, but we still spend time together other ways.

But to me, fishing with my dad was more than just about fish.

Actually, it wasn’t about fish at all. It was about a man and his little girl going out together and spending time together and building a relationship — one that’s unbreakable to this day.

So I guess, this one’s for you, Dad. Thanks for teaching me a few things without me even knowing it.

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