When we were kids, my dad would make us help him with the yard work in the summer. Instead of using the grass catcher, he would fire it into the atmosphere and start handing out rakes. Perhaps it was to get us out of the house and give mom a break, so she could dance around the kitchen listening to Aretha Franklin without three boys crawling all over her counter tops. Maybe it was just that he wanted to tire us out, so that we didn’t put up too much of a fight when he would drag the TV remote (it was a slidebox with a cord that ran to the set) onto his chest and pass out while watching the PGA tour, or maybe it was some kind of forced togetherness that I was still too young to appreciate…
He loved golf. His whole dream was that one of us would become a PGA golfer… sadly that career aspiration of his never came to fruition, however I did once get mistaken for Phil Mickelson in the Charlotte airport – maybe that was enough?
Aside from his family, golf was his first love – that is, until he bought a 16′ maroon Crestliner and pulled it up our driveway.
On occasion, we’d go with him out on Lake Nockamixon in Pennsylvania, but mom would have to swing by after an hour or two and pick us up. I’m pretty sure that we became vocal about our boredom after trolling up and down the lake without even the hint of a fish breaking water. He didn’t seem to mind though, perhaps that was because he was enjoying time with his boys.
As I got older, my attitude about the whole thing changed. I focused less on the fishing and more about spending quality time with my dad. It was a chance for us to connect and talk about life. For me to learn from him and for him to understand a little bit about the man I wanted to be. Not every father and son have an open line of communication and certainly less back in the day – we sometimes did stuff as kids that we weren’t proud of or knew might piss him off. But these days there’s an evolution occurring in the father-son relationship and I spoke about it two weeks ago, at the Dad Summit 2.o here in Washington D.C.
It’s cool to care.
The days of internalizing your feelings and wearing an armor of bravado are quickly disappearing.
I WANT my kids to be able to come to me with problems – and I’m glad that my dad was progressive enough to encourage it with me.
With him still in his dirty clothes from a hard day of laying brick, we fired casts into the water at dusk, him asking me how my day at school was, how I felt about the upcoming track season and my thoughts on college. The funny thing is, once I stopped caring about the sport, we started catching fish.
I’m happy that we could find common ground, seeped in a tradition that I can watch him continue to share with me and help me pass along to my own kids, his grandchildren.
It’s not too late and it’s never too early to have a special relationship with your dad. Whether it’s a 10-pound striper or something totally different, the best catch of the day is that bond.