In honor of Dad's Birthday. He has since gone to Glory and I'm sure in Heaven, the big ones don't get away!
Fishing with my father was anything but boring, but my mother dreaded every fishing season. “Your father is a veritable Mr. Hyde when he fishes,” she would say, generally including an emphatic gesture like hitting Dad with the newspaper, pretending a fly had landed on his shirt. “It’s safer to cuddle up to a rattler than be stuck in a boat with your father.”
But over time, my mother learned the wisdom of patience in dealing with my father’s idiosyncrasies. “When you’re married to a man for over sixty years, you forgive these sorts of insanities. Your father’s done a lot of crazy things that challenged my patience, but the craziest thing was the day he brought home that trout he caught at Butternut Creek.”
Dad squeezed Mother’s hand. “I suppose she’s right.”
They shared the tale that symbolized their sixty plus years together.
“Butternut Creek is probably the trickiest place I ever fished in,” Dad said. “Why it’s so narrow you could toss a stone from one side to the other. And the trees like to hold hands across the creek.”
My father first cast got a hit. “By the force of the pull, I knew he was a big feller.”
Downstream, Eddie, Dad’s fishing buddy, was about to cast when he saw Dad struggling to hold his line. “Looks like a keeper, Cal,” he shouted. “Better use the net!”
“I left it in the truck!”
“Your father is always forgetful,” Mother interjected.
Dad could see the truck in an open field about a quarter of a mile downstream, but it might just as well have been two miles away. As Dad battled the beast of the stream, Eddie splashed his way toward the truck. Long minutes later, he plunged into chest-high rapids. For an agonizing second, Dad thought his amazing catch of the day would become catalogued with the other trillion stories of the one that got away.
“Got him!” Eddie shouted as he emerged triumphantly. They stopped at the water’s edge and shared that kind of emotional moment between men sans tears and embraces. Eddie simply stated, “Got to have a picture of this one, Cal.”
“Well, I don’t own a camera,” Dad moaned.
“Cal, we’ve got to have proof. Nobody’s going to believe we actually caught this fellow.”
“Well, neither one of us has one. At least we know what we caught.” The men trudged home with no lasting memento to herald their deed.
As much as Mother despised fishing, she understood what this catch meant to my father. “Put the fish in the tub,” she said. “I’ll find us a camera.” The next day she borrowed one from her employer, and the picture found its way into Dad’s brag book.
When I think of what true patience in marriage embodies, I am reminded of this story. How my mother’s love transcended my father’s child-like need. I believe that human quality is but a shadow of God’s perfect patience. Knowing our foibles, His Patient Love surpasses the worst of our human frailty.