The First Man

Every year this man has a birthday.
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I’ve been around for 50 of them.
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But tonight, on his 78th birhthday, I realize, all these years, I’ve missed something.
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I missed the Blue Tent and Ford Fender Spinner.
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(Cheryl, Ken and Mom)

Let me back up. You see, I’ve seen my Father through my own eyes all these years. The eyes of a girl, a little girl who adored her Daddy, A teenaged girl who feared her Dad, a young married woman who loved her father, a young Mom who grew to admire him, and finally, a middle age woman who adores her Daddy.
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What I’ve missed though, is the other perspective of this man. The perspective of a son.

Tonight I spoke with my big brother about Dad.  He talked about Dad coming up with adventures, trips, excursions…adventures he would take his family out on.  We would arrive at a camp site and Dad would put up the Blue Tent by himself in the dark.

He talked about a trip to Olallie Lake in the Mount Hood National Forest; that spring Dad wanted to be the first to catch fish in the lake.  Our truck got stuck in the snow and Ken and Dad worked to get us out while Mom and the rest of us had a picnic in the middle of the road.   I remember that trip and knew I had the pictures of it, but I didn’t remember what it took to get us back on the road.  Ken Laughed and said that Dad was always doing the work to keep our adventures afloat, but the adventures were also HIS idea.  The work must have been part of the fun for him, even though we never made it to Olallie Lake that day.
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Ken talked about going fishing with his grown sons recently, and coaching them, instructing them (probably for the umpteenth time if I know my brother)

“Ford Fender Spinner
Ten feet of Liter
Bait Hook with a Worm
Slow Trolling”

What? I asked. What is that you’re saying?

“What Dad taught us fishing”, he said.
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(Grandpa Tate, the man who taught my dad to fish)

Wait, let me get a pen. I want to get this right.

Ford Fender Spinner
Ten Feet of Liter
Bait a Hook with a Worm
Slow Trolling
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(Timmy and Ronnie with a fresh catch)

Passed down from Father to Son to Son
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This morning I wished Dad a Happy Birthday! We laughed about his age, I teased about being so close to 80. He cringed. I reminded him how much younger he is than his own father was at this age. We laughed some more…a conversation I’ll remember and keep in my heart…
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… because he was the first man I ever loved.

Ford Fender Spinner
Ten Feet Of Liter
Bait a Hook with a worm
Slow Trolling

Happy Birthday Daddy. I love you.

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