Eulogy for my Father
Good morning and thank you all for coming to honor the life of my father. The fullness of this room may be the best testament to the man he was. Poet and writer Jim Harrison said "death steals everything but our stories" and I am sure every single one of you has at least one story about Ron that makes you chuckle.
Renowned fly fishing author John Gierach once wrote that "Accurately recalling an entire day of fishing is like trying to push smoke back down a chimney, so you settle on specific moments".
I feel the same when I think back over my father's life. He was a man full of kindness, generosity, laughter and love. A hard worker who could not be idle. Three elements stand out: his pipe, his coffee & his smile.
When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years. Mark Twain said that, but it may as well have been me.
While we were close enough as I was growing up, we also had our fair share of disagreements, though none we were unable to work out. I was able to have a father and a friend. I've been incredibly fortunate to have spent the better part of the past ten years chasing trout across Pennsylvania with my old man. We made memories I will never lose, moments a photograph could never capture. My mother always said how much he valued that time we spent together, but I think the gift gotten was all mine.
My father instilled in me a set of values: the satisfaction of a job done right, an appreciation for the outdoors & nature, the need for conservation, sportsmanship & stewardship, the pleasure of a good burger. He taught me how to be a father: tough but not harsh or unkind. Supportive, readily available to help, listen or talk. Quick with a laugh, tender with a hug. Loving, treating my wife as if she were his own daughter. Treating my children as though they were the best blessing he had ever received.
My dad was a man of faith, but was never preachy. There is a passage in the Bible which reads:
All of the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come there they return again. One generation passes away and another generation comes, but the earth abides forever.
He shared his passion for the outdoors, most especially fly fishing, with me. I've been able to pass that on to my kids who love to explore and fish alongside me, carrying forth the legacy of my father.
John Gierach wrote:
They say you forget your troubles on a trout stream, but that's not quite it. What happens is that you begin to see where your troubles fit into the grand scheme of things, and suddenly they're just not such a big deal anymore.
It will be hard to return to those cold, tumbling streams we shared, but I know I'll be carrying him with me, and those troubles will wash away.
In closing I offer this verse from poet Friedrich Schiller : It is not flesh and blood, but heart which makes us fathers and sons.
I share the words above in hopes to add some intention to part two of this post. I finally got back on the water earlier this year after quite a few months off. I've started taking his rods and reels out on the water. I'm fishing my dad's flies, always starting each outing with something of his tied on my tippet. Inconveniently enough, he died at the end of summer so his boxes are on the light side of filled up, but I've not had the will to sit down and tie more of my own. Thus the Year of Ron's Flies.
But, I don't really fish nymphs, like at all. So I'm going to share the wealth and hopefully some of his legacy with you all. There's at least a hundred in his box.
If you want a couple flies of his, send me a self addressed stamped envelope at: YORF, 261 N 4th Street, Indiana PeeAyy, 15701. The only request I make is that you share a photo or two of the fish they caught, provided they don't get broken off before that can happen.
I'm going to add some content from this spring and summer as I get out on waters we've shared and take his tackle to waters I wanted to share with him but never got the chance. I hope some of you will join me.