My sister took this picture of my dad last year, and we both love it because, as we say, “It’s classic Deetz.” Somehow, in this picture, I can see him as a little boy, sitting there just like that.
We all call my father Deetz these days, when my son was little he started calling him D.T., no one is really quite sure why, but it stuck, and over the years it evolved into Deetz. Now everyone that is any part of the family calls him that.
I have a lot of memories of fishing with my dad. When I was a kid he would load all four of us into the station wagon and off we would go, probably giving my mom a much-needed break. My brothers and sister and I caught a lot of sunfish in those days. Once, just once, I caught a bass. And I was so excited, but then so disappointed when I had to throw it back, because it wasn’t bass season. Of course, someone else always had to put the worm on the hook for me, my dad did it, mostly, or sometimes my brother, but I didn’t ask him very often because he also liked to torture me about my fear of worms and would usually dangle one in my face first.
Once, we went fishing after a long rainy spell, and the big old station wagon got stuck in the mud. I mean really stuck. It took hours to get out of there, all four of us pushing and laughing hysterically and then getting mad and then laughing some more as the wheels just kept spinning and we would move an inch or two, and by the time we got home we were all covered in mud, and that was not a good day for my mother.
Another time, we went ice fishing. I don’t remember catching any fish that day, but I remember that for some reason my brother decided to fill his hole back in with chunks of ice right before we left. And me, being the klutz that I always was, immediately forgot that hole was there, and as we were walking back to the car, my leg slipped right down into it. My dad instinctively grabbed for me, catching me by the hood of my coat, and pulling me back out almost instantaneously, so I was saved from a complete dunking, or worse. But, oh my, was I cold. We had to go to my grandmother’s house, which was closer than ours, so I could get out of my wet clothes. Nobody was very happy with my brother that day.
Sometimes just a few of us went, sometimes it was just me and my dad. And as I got older, a lot of times I didn’t even fish, I took my book and sat near him and read while he fished. For some reason, I love those memories as much if not more than the ones I have of actually catching fish. We didn’t talk much, you have to be quiet when you are fishing, but we sat there, together, each doing the thing we loved best.
My dad is the most patient man I have ever met. He is quiet and sweet and selfless. For my entire life he has given himself to his family. He has always, always been there for me. Putting worms on my hook, driving me to the mall when I was a teenager, and then sitting there on a bench while my friends and I shopped, helping me fix anything in my house that has ever been broken, giving me advice when I have asked for it, and just being there, silently, when all I needed was that.
My dad has always been there to grab my hood and pull me up.
My dad is my hero.
Happy Father’s Day, Deetz.