Saturday, March 9, 2019

Is there a "good divorce?"

A good divorce, is there such a thing? I can’t say. However there is such a thing as good parenting after a divorce.

I was blessed with good relationships with both parents, and with my stepfather, after my parents’ divorce. Going fishing played a big part.

My mother remarried. More than once she said of my father and stepfather, “you are fortunate to have two fathers who are both honorable men.“

My earliest memories are living with my mother and grandparents, then later with my mom and new stepfather, brothers and sisters.

I have no recollection of my father during my early years, probably because he was off at war. At the end of World War II my parents were divorced.

Now that I am well past the age when my father and mother divorced, I understand the effort my father invested in creating and maintaining a relationship with me, his son who lived 1500 miles from him.

The role of fishing?

I grew up fishing with my mom and stepfather in East Texas. We finished for almost everything that moved, primarily bream, crappie, bass, and catfish. In the process we also caught disagreeable looking fish like Alligator Gar and “Grinnel“. We fished with minnows, worms, and artificial lures; I even fished with chewing gum. In addition we set out trotlines baited with stuff too awful to describe. It was exciting!

When I was about 12, my father began taking me fishing every summer. This involved flying up East from Dallas alone on American Airlines. That by it self was exciting!

The fish my father and I stalked up East - trout and salmon - were prettier than most of the fish I stalked in East Texas.

My father grew up in East Texas, and in Austin. I don’t think he ever went fishing in his boyhood. His family was poor and all of them worked hard just to survive. His father left the family and everyone had to work.

When my father became successful in business and could take time off for fishing, he and his friends went after trout and salmon. Unlike me, they didn’t fish with live bait. They fished with dry flies, and, if necessary with wet flies. A serious offense to them was being accused of “fishing with bait.“ Although they were fishing purists, they were not highbrow. They loved putting on grungy clothes and going into rural New York, Montana and Canada for weeks at a time.

I was admitted into his fishing brotherhood only after my father spent several days training me to fly cast on the grass in the backyard of his home. That time together forged a bond between my father and me that lasted all our lives.

My father also was a faithful letter writer. He typed his own letters, signing them with a practiced flourishing signature the art of which I have never equaled.

The letters might contain descriptions of his travels around the world (he was an airline executive) and often snapshots. Sometimes they contained stories about places overseas where he fished, like Norway and Iceland. I remember he described the geysers and geothermal activity he saw in Iceland, along with the salmon fishing and fellowship he enjoyed.

Our annual fishing trips and my father’s frequent letters created a wonderful bond I greatly value and even now enjoy. My father passed on to be with the Lord three decades ago.

My Mom was right. I am fortunate - blessed - to have two honorable men for fathers. Both of them whole heartedly did what they could to love, train and affirm me. I couldn’t ask for more. Both of them now are gone from this life, but they aren’t gone from my heart.