Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
- TITLE: Resting
By Elizabeth Hale
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Daddy had been gone for a little over three months on that chilly Sunday morning. We all pulled our jackets and sweaters a little more snugly around ourselves as we lowered the boat into the water in that early morning hour. The boat had been his--bought from him by one of my younger brothers when Daddy had left my stepmother and moved one state over with his new love. It seemed fitting somehow for him to be making his last journey in life on it. My father loved to fish more than anything else, next to drinking. And he loved this lake like none other. It was all so perfect, even knowing all the imperfections of the situation--it was right.
As the boat sliced through the quiet, still water of the lake, the six of us talked and laughed. Rarely, in fact never before, did we get together like this, just the six of us with no spouses, no children, and neither of our mothers in attendance. We didn't talk about our father, oddly enough. Yet all our combined regrets in regard to him lent added weight to that boat. What should have been but wasn't. What could have been but now--now, there were no more opportunities for what could have been. Sorrow was present, but so was joy. Whatever else our father had done in his lifetime--at least in that moment, we had each other.
When we reached our destination, we were pleased to see that no other boaters or early morning fishermen were present. We needed our privacy to complete our mission--a mission our father had sent us on. Not only were we not entirely sure of the legalities of what we had come to do, we needed to be alone, with each other.
It was so peaceful out there on that lake, parked in Daddy's all-time favorite fishing spot, just near the dam, on the lake he loved.
We all stood up in the boat, clasped hands, and prayed for our father. Prayed that his soul was as peaceful as the lake in that moment, as peaceful as we had all come to be. We forgave him for his abandonment and his ability to throw us away as he'd done. We thanked God for allowing us to know our dad, at least as much as he would allow himself to be known by anyone. We thanked God for His lifelong protection and love, and for the strength we'd gained from the lessons taught by Daddy.
I'd never seen cremated remains before. I'd imagined they looked like fireplace or cigarette ashes. They don't. They resemble sand on a beach. And they're very heavy.
We laid Daddy to rest in the cold lake water. We sank his favorite fishing pole right where we'd just poured his remains. None of us could have used it--it was fitting that when he went, that pole went with him.
My brothers, though it was not yet 8 a.m., toasted my fathers memory with a beer--Daddy's favorite brand. My sister and I toasted him too--just not with beer--too early for us.
It was completed. Everything my father asked us to do for him after he passed was done.
Funeral preached by Bobby (my cousin, who is an Episcopalian priest). Check.
Take care of Toma, Daddy's girlfriend.
Check, and still ongoing.
Beer in his memory. Check.
Forgiving him for all he'd done and hadn't done in regards to us--his children. Check--six times over.
"Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land".
I don't remember reading that our parents are supposed to honor us. I don't remember reading that we only have to honor them if they're honorable. The Bible says to honor them----period.
I think we did.
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