It was at Captree Beach at dawn one summer that my dad (Gerard Fischetti) and I went fishing with my two sisters. I flip-flopped across the sand, trailing Dad’s swift steps toward the fishing pier, dragging the fishing pole Dad said I would use. I was 10.
I looked at the peaceful beach at dawn in all its beauty — white glistening sand kissed by the soft light of the rising sun. It seemed like such a special place just for me, Dad and my sisters. I didn’t love fishing, but I knew Dad did. Looking back, perhaps by joining him on a fishing trip I was fishing for Dad’s love. I was a child playing “Go Fish” trying to “reel” Dad in.
As we strode down the beach, my view was of the white flock of sea gulls gliding across in the sky, hovering and surveying the coast for food — the scavengers of the beach. I was afraid they would grab our packed lunch of heros made with eggs and peppers that Mom made for us. Fishing was the only time I ate eggs and peppers heros — I wanted to eat like Dad.
We arrived at the fishing pier and set up our gear, joining other fishermen and their children to vie for the fish biting. Although small, I was able to hold on to the fishing pole Dad had personally wrapped in colored fishing tape. I never knew why he did that, but I thought the colors looked nice.
Dad caught a flounder and I soon followed with a blowfish, trying again to keep up with his pace. After some more catches, we unwrapped the eggs and peppers heros, called it a lunch break and threw some crumbs in the water to tempt the fish. The day moved on swiftly, and we soon headed home with our catch. On some occasions, before leaving the pier, I would even clean some of the fish with Dad — although it was a gruesome chore, I didn’t mind if I was with Dad.
The next summer, I joined Dad on a fishing trip again but it wasn’t the same. I didn’t enjoy the fishing trip anymore, nor reeking with that fishy smell or wearing worn shabby fishing clothes. I was growing up, outgrowing fishing and becoming a young lady.
As I walked on the fishing pier beside Dad, I glanced at one of the fishermen’s catch lying on the pier — a flounder whose life was fading away. It was no longer a “catch” to me, but a doomed animal, as I cried out: “Daddy, that fish is dying!” Dad became alarmed and shot a look in my direction, trying to hush me: “Susan, that’s the point of fishing,” Dad explained with a faint smile. We both knew at that moment that my fishing days with Dad were over.
I may have stopped fishing, but Dad never stopped loving me. And I stopped fishing for Dad’s love, because I realized I already caught it. Dad’s unconditional love taught me that I didn’t have to do things other people loved to get their love. Dad’s love was the catch of my life.
Susan Marie Davniero,