The Fisherman and His Son

The stories are many and I write about myself and the book will center on my life and what I have experienced along the journey. I have lived a very colorful and full life. I tell stories about the things I have been through to explain a belief or convey an idea. A very good friend of mine that grew up on a very parallel path if not just slightly tougher path has shared an idea with me and I will do my best to tell our story.

The discussion of will power comes up from time to time and people believe the reason I succeed is less talent and ability and more just a will to survive. That will is something that comes from deep within your core and is called upon in times of grave need. You make a decision to persevere and not to give up. The people with the iron will never give up; it is not in them. To die trying is nobler than to accept defeat.

Men of the sea are a tougher breed of human beings and they stare down death every day as they take from Mother Nature the bounty of the sea. Mother Nature gives up her treasures grudgingly and every year she takes a few good men home to meet their maker.

The sons of fishermen grow up to be fishermen. We are raised on the back deck of a small rusty boat working as hard as we can and trying to prove we can do the job when we are still boys. The conditions are brutal and yet we persevere and never complain. Showing weakness is just not acceptable. We are never tired or cold. Even when we get hurt it is simply a scratch and we continue to work. This is our way. We have to prove we are a man.

When Dad hollers in the morning you bound out of bed and throw your clothes on and beat him to the truck so you can go to sea with him. The sea is rough and when we are young we get sick as we try to find our sea legs. We ignore the feeling and continue to work. We sneak to the side of the boat to puke and hope nobody notices. Of course we are fine it was nothing. The meanest son of a bitch on Earth is looking back at us and wishing we could have been born just a little tougher. Of course he is tougher on us than all the rest; we are the son of a fisherman.

After a full day on the back deck working without a break or any food, we come inside for a few moments and shovel down a quick bite to eat before hitting the rack for an hour on the run home. Sixteen or eighteen hour days are common and sleep is a luxury rarely afforded a fisherman when the fishing is good. There will be plenty of time to rest once the season is over.

When the fish are elusive there is no money to be made. We will pick up and run for hundreds of miles to where we have heard there are fish. Running for endless hours into the darkness in pursuit of the fish we so desperately need to pay our bills. For a young boy it is a badge of honor to stand wheel watch while the others sleep. We run the boat into the darkness of the night hour after hour. We deny ourselves precious sleep in an effort to prove that we too are fishermen. I feel tired and my eyes are heavy but to fall asleep while on wheel watch is an unforgivable sin for a fisherman. I can go forever without sleep because I will not fail. When everyone is dead tired and nobody wants to stand wheel watch I am a man in a ten year old body and I can do it. I am stronger than all of the men; not physically but mentally. Let me do it. I will not let you down. You need the rest Dad.

The day I first saw Dad sleeping while I was running the boat is one I will never forget. I am a man and I can be trusted with everyone’s lives. We grow up way too young. We are fishermen and we wear that badge with pride.

The will to survive and succeed is burned into our souls from a young age and we carry it through life. No matter what our chosen profession, we have that inner strength that comes from growing up at sea. The toughest day at my job on land is still quite a bit easier than the best day on the ocean.

The son of a fisherman I have escaped the grips of the sea. The man has left the ocean but the ocean has never left the man.

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2 Responses to “The Fisherman and His Son”

  1. Thomas DeArth Says:

    Bravo Victor. Thank you! I read it as i I were telling the story myself. Similar to you, I too will never forget when my dad slept while I was at the wheel. I felt so proud, I felt like a man. I recall the burden of responsibility was enormous as, at that point, I realized that my dad’s life was in my hands and hitting a log would end it all; I was a 5th grader. As father of a 4th grader, I cannot imagine putting so much trust in my son and realize perhaps I am preparing him as well as our dad’s did with us. As bad as it was, and as bad as we thought it was, perhaps it was our good fortune to have experienced something that so few do.

    I have not thought about hiding the puking for years and years; pretending that I was looking over the side and timing it with the roll of the boat.

    Preparing for years to write a book of my own, I have collected hundreds of stories from my dad. I don’t know what your relationship with your dad is these days but I think I recall Rick saying his health is marginal. You should consider taking the time to get his stories, maybe with a recorder. There is so much they experienced that we were not aware of–fascinating stories that need to be preserved.

    Take care,

    Thomas.

  2. victorshaw Says:

    Reblogged this on Tells-n-Lies and commented:

    Talked to Dad on Sunday and thought about this old post

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