Fishing With Dad… and Other Sweet Memories

Last month ScanCafe customer Sharon shared some pictures and a moving Memorial Day tribute to her father – a Korean war veteran – and others who served. In her eulogy for him at his memorial service in 2016, she remembered the loving dad and husband that he was. Here’s an excerpt…

We enjoyed a beautiful home and yard and cabin on the Rogue River (in Southern Oregon), and life was rich with laughter, lessons, projects, tradition, animals, and friends. Dad’s humor and wit was woven into daily life and we laughed and giggled a lot. He teased with tenderness, and we learned to laugh at ourselves. If things were rough, laughing helped. Dad had severe hearing loss and what he heard was often not what was said. There were times it was very frustrating for him but also times that were funny. Mom started jotting down what made her giggle the most… She said “we need to stop and get the mail” and he replied “no, I’ll have a waffle, I don’t want cereal.”

I think the most important lesson he taught us was respect and caring for others. He had great respect for his wife and supported her as an authority. He honored his elders. He showed kindness and caring – visiting friends in the hospital, calling to check in, hugging those who needed, and offering help. Difficult life lessons required a stern lecture, but simple lessons and big decisions were often discussed whilst sitting on Dad’s lap. I recall vividly at age 8, sitting on his lap and debating the pros and cons to joining ski team or swim team – to be cold on the hill or in the water.

Dad was a shop guy. He built his dream home and the cabin, and he could fix just about anything. He loved being in his shop with all the machinery, tools, and supplies one would ever need. Ideas and requests were welcomed with enthusiasm. He built me a balance beam, a starting block, a dollhouse, a bongo board, and a temporary wedding band from a steel pipe turned on the lathe, which I still wear. Sometimes things didn’t work, like when we exploded ceramics trying to fire them in our oven or when he “eyeballed” the measurements in building his tractor trailer and the bucket didn’t fit. Perfection or not, it was always a joy to be with Dad working.

Dad’s truck carried all that he needed for adventure and he could usually squeeze in a little fishing, rock hounding, gold panning or mushrooming en route to somewhere. Dad and I fished together on the morning of my wedding day. We didn’t catch a thing, but I will always treasure that morning on the river.

I am grateful for the glorious childhood my parents gave me, their adult friendship, and the grace and trust in accepting our help. As an adult I continued to learn from Dad and I shared with him, my own tidbits of knowledge. In Dad’s eyes, everyone had something to share and he was a good listener.

We miss him dearly.  We miss his warm smile and his twinkling blue eyes. We miss his love and affection and humor. We would love to hear him tell just one more story.

Grieving is a journey and we find our path and maybe there is no end in missing someone. I expect I’ll have moments when I am overwhelmed in longing for my Dad, my buddy – wading a river to cast my fly in the perfect hole, riding up the chair and skiing the last run, walking in the woods, finding a pretty rock, tinkering with projects, watching animals. I hope I will simply feel blessed to have his spirit with me.

To paraphrase Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh: How lucky we are to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

Robert Boyd Stuart (April 21, 1931 – January 6, 2016)