Thursday, March 21, 2013

#Slice 2013: 21 of 31- The Gift of Honoring a Kid's Passion

During the month of March, I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at I have started a new blog because this challenge has inspired me to work on my own creative writing. This post is part of a series about presents that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this serious of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives.

For other posts in the series, please head over to, which is where I began the series.

The Gift of Honoring a Kid's Passion

I have many more memories of my father and his gifts throughout the years before my two ending posts about him. I will warn you now, these last two posts are sad because what happened to him was really, really sad. So, this is the last of the easy to read and fun to write posts. Who knows? I may change some--all of the feedback has been tremendously helpful in that I think some of them have exactly the impact that I meant and with some, I feel like I missed the mark. This last one has more to do with my brother and my father than with me, but I think that it is an important one in showing what sort of a person my dad is (I wonder about using is here and not was) and what sort of a parent he has inspired me to be.

We moved around a lot when I was a child and I think that my youngest brother and I had an easier time with that than my middle brother did. One of the reasons that it was easier for Charlie and me to deal with moving was that we played team sports and therefore, fit right into a group of friends. My brother John preferred individual sports. When we were growing up in the mid seventies/early eighties, fly-fishing had not really taken off as a sport. Brad Pitt didn't catch trout on the big screen until 1992 when A River Runs Through It inspired many people to learn to cast. However, John loved to fish. My father wasn't much of a fisherman--he had played football and rowed crew--but he learned to fish in order to support my brother. As a ten year-old, John was the youngest student that Lee Wulff accepted at his famous Wulff School of Fly Fishing in upstate New York and I remember the two of them carving out hours to spend catching and releasing fish.

My father was never a particularly good fly-fisherman. There are many more stories about him falling into the water than about him catching the perfect fish. One time, his waders filled up with water and John had to pull him out of the river. Another time, he fell off the bow of the boat into Block Island Sound and spent the rest of his fishing day with his buddies huddled in a blanket. Just recently, he plummeted into the pond at the trout club where he now goes to scratch his fishing itch. But he loves it and he loved the time he spent with my brother.

And here's the really happy ending to the stories about John and my dad's fishing adventures and my dad's acceptance of John's individual passion. John worked for Orvis when he was getting his Master's in Urban Planning at NYU. He was a pretty coveted fishing guide since he knew the Beaverkill really well; top executives wanted John to take them fishing. Guess what? One of them wanted John to work for him, as well. One of them headhunted John away from Orvis when John was working as their head guide, taking people all over the world fishing, and he has been working for the new company ever since--not as a fisherman, but as a trader who makes enough money to take himself and his boys anywhere in the world that he wants to fish.

I have tried to inspire, nurture, celebrate and honor my daughters' passions the way my father did for all of us. What incredible gifts.


  1. This is the first time I have read this series, Melanie. I am looking forward to going back to your tworeflectiveteachers site to read more. I love that we have words to honor the joy, sadness and love we have for others. You do this with grace.

  2. This is such a wonderful example that so many parents need to read and understand. I tried to nurture my children's passions. Like you, my daughter was always on a team and loved son really broke my heart because, even though he was a talented athlete...he loved something I don't know why, but I just missed those bleachers so much. Thank you for doing these wonderful pieces....I will continue to read, even the sad. xo

  3. Your dad understood his kids and who they were. He did not force anyone to follow the path he wanted, he allowed you each to choose your passions. That is so cool! It is awesome your brother's passion led him to the job he has now, so he can indulge in fishing where ever.

  4. I am interesting in reading your next posts...even if they may be sad. It is all in honoring your father...the man he was. He sounds like he knew how important it was for his children to follow their own passions....and knowing it might be difficult for your brother to do that since it was not a team sport. How perceptive your father was...and then acting on that not only supported your brother...but participated with him. Thanks for a beautiful post. I love reading about interactions of family members. Jackie

  5. You inspire me to write my family stories and memories. I am trying to get my sister to privately blog with me from Natalie Goldberg's book, OLD FRIEND FROM FAR AWAY. Thank you.

  6. Your father sounds like a wonderful man to recognize who your brother was, not whom he wanted him to be. Now to go back and read the other stories.

  7. We do all kinds of things for our kids, don't we? I have to admit, after reading all of your memories, I'm curious about what happened to your father. My own father died suddenly of a heart attack at 63. I'm not sure which is worse; not to have him at all, or to have a different him. Either way, your posts are beautiful reminders of the importance of savoring every minute with our families.

  8. Nurturing your child's interest in something, whether you share that interest or not, is such a long term gift to them. What a loving father, Melanie...and I'm sure he took great pride and joy in the way your brother's interest led to a fulfilling life. Great story!

  9. Your dad, once again, sounds like such an amazing guy. He just seems to have loved you guys so generously. I love that he put his own interests and desires aside to pursue and nurture your brother's love of fishing. And yes, what a valuable lesson that has been for you as a parent. Still not sure I am ready for what's coming, but I'll definitely be back, because once again, your story is so compelling.