posted on Apr, 6 2013 @ 03:28 PM
For a few years in my childhood I was lucky enough to experience what I think was possibly the perfect childhood. We lived in Nashua, New Hampshire -
in an affluent neighborhood. It was like a dream. Friendly neighbors, cops who not only patrolled the neighborhood - but also were people and part of
the community. I can remember many times that the officers would park their patrol cars and play ball with us kids - or come for visits into the house
and have coffee with the parents.
Things that today probably do not happen - at least not in most places.
The one memory that seems to stand out above the rest probably will seem silly to most. But man was it magical to me.
My father had come home from Vietnam and gotten a job as an FAA supervisor at Boston Center. He worked long hours ( or so that it what we were told at
least - honestly I don't know. Now that I am an adult I think he probably had a girlfriend in Boston and just stayed gone to be with here. But
whatever... I was a kid then and didn't notice or think such things ). He would go to work and stay gone for 3-5 days at a time.
During the summer, whenever he was home, however, we had a ritual. He had bought a small aluminium row boat. Maybe 12-15 feet. He would load this boat
on the top of his car and we would head for this small lake that was about an hour from our house. It was beautiful... my memories may be faulty, but
I remember the small lake being in ( or near ) some mountains and that these mountains tended to stay white at the tops - even in warm weather. There
was so much green there. The water was always crisp, cold, and it smelled so fresh.
We would pull up to that lake and my dad would unload that boat, grab two fishing poles and a tackle box, load me into the boat, and push us out into
I was only about 5 or 6 years old so my dad would have to put the worm on the hook for me. He would also have to take any fish I caught off of the
hook. These were small fish - only a few inches in length. I have not fished since then, so I don't know what kind of fish they were.... but they
were thin, flat, and had spiny fins. I imagine they were probably not very good for eating. Still I can remember getting frustrated at my father
because he would patiently release every fish I caught right back into the water - and I would protest, feeling that I was "catching dinner" and he
was interfering with my whole "hunter gatherer" vibe.
For his part - he'd simply row us around the lake and sip on beers while I fished the day away. Once the sun began to set, we'd work our way back to
shore, load up, and return home. Often he would stop at a small meat shop and buy a couple of fish for our dinner - so that he could try and mend my
broken hunter-gatherer feelings.
I imagine that this probably only lasted for 3 or 4 summers. But through the eyes of a child it seemed like we did this hundreds of times. It seemed
like forever, as it still does in my memories.
Time passed, my parents divorced, and my mother, sister and I moved away from Nashua - never to return. But from that point forward I was always in
love with water. All of my life I have been an avid swimmer, surfer, and boating enthusiast. Any chance I have to get to a lake or the ocean - I go.
These are the only places I really feel at peace. I am not a whole person away from large bodies of water.
My dad and I became estranged as I got older. His drinking got worse and I lost that innocence that allows a child to see his father as Superman. He
died in 1996 from the drinking. He and I never reconciled.
In the 17 years since his death I, myself, began to get older. In fact I am now about ten years older than my father was during those magical summers
from my childhood. Age has allowed me at least some understanding of who my father really was and what might have led him into the dark places he
wound up going. The anger of the later years of our relationship has faded and, these days, I find myself thinking much more about that kid, on that
lake, fishing pole in hand, staring at Superman as he sipped a beer and lovingly waited to release the next caught fish.