A Perfect Father,
on Any Day
Some twenty years ago now my parents had recently retired to gold rush country of Auburn, California, while I was living in Portland, Oregon. While my dad was retired from working for 30 years for Western Electric, he kept quite busy and was an expert angler, taking several trips a year.
During a nice summer weekend I called up my parents just to check in and see how things were going. My mom said everything was good, but my dad was out of town on a fishing trip to his favorite fishing hole, and favorite spot on earth, the Metolius River in Oregon near Camp Sherman. I was a little surprised that he would drive all the way up to Oregon and not tell me that he was coming! But my mom told me he didn’t plan on coming up to Portland and just went to fish. So I decided to concoct a little plan I shared with my mom, as long as she could keep it a secret in case he called her that night.
The plan went to perfection. The next morning I woke up quite early, climbed in the car, and drove down to Camp Sherman. I knew he wouldn’t be fishing by the bridge that crossed the Metolius, but parked my car well out of the way in the event he was. I then quietly made my way on the road near the cabins there until I saw his car. Sure enough, he was there, somewhere, it was only a matter of finding him.
A trail leads it’s way from Camp Sherman along the Metolius all the way to it’s headwaters, a very nice hike about a mile long with numerous fishing spots along it’s bank. I kept a keen eye out as I walked along, trying to find him. About 20 minutes upstream I saw him, with his waders on, in his element, and luckily, facing the other direction. I paused for just a moment before yelling out, “That’s not how to fish!
He turned around and the smile on his face when he saw me was beyond priceless. “Hey, what are you doing here?!”
He came over to see me, we talked some about the fishing and had some lunch together before I headed back home.
I knew not only from intuition, but from my mother mentioning it years before, that this would be my father’s final resting place. When he passed away over three short years ago now it was this very river, not far from this exact spot where I spread his ashes.
Years ago the trail to the headwaters wasn’t very well marked, but now a sign and easy access path leads to a very nice view of the river. I’ve been back a couple times since. If I look downstream, and if the light is just right, I can still see him fishing there.
Happy father’s day, dad.