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“Rip off their lip, give them a headache and throw ‘em back”, direction from my dad on what to do with a bullhead. He didn’t know that we wanted to catch bullheads; we intentionally put our lines deeper than we were told to, “but dad, the bobber must have slipped!”. Our family spent a week each summer for many years at Blauer’s Resort on Little Whitefish Lake near Brainerd, MN My best childhood memories were created on these fishing vacations. It is where my dad and his dad, my Grandpa Berglund, taught us how to catch, clean and cook fish. It is where I learned how to run a boat motor…the Mercury. The Merc- a 25 hp, sexy motor if you will- jet black with blue writing. It’s funny, the things we remember. My dad was proud of that motor. I think it is because he worked really hard and saved until he could afford it. We kids had the “Sea Nymph”, it was just as it sounds…small. I didn’t feel nearly as cool when I drove that one- especially when my dad would blow by you on the lake and give you a wake that nearly capsized you…a little freaky for a 10 year old! I remember the smell, the flies and the single bulb light in the fish cleaning house. We spent hours in there, cleaning fish by the 5 gal buckets, bugs bouncing off of the screens at night, no radio - just talking about what we were going to do the next day. I knew how to scale ‘em, cut off their heads and gut ‘em. My brother, Dewey, on the other hand, was so articulate in his filleting ability that the fish would still have a beating heart when he was complete. I guess for Dewey it was a prelude to a 15 year career as the “meat-cutter-extraordinaire” for a major grocery chain in his adult life.
My dad loved to fish: he and my grandpa would spend hours together in the boat. Honestly, I don’t think it was about the fishing so much, but the time he was able to spend with his dad in the boat. I am sure that my dad didn’t know the impact of the gift that he had given to us as children and the power of the legacy that is being passed on to his grandchildren and one day, to his great grandchildren.
When my dad retired in 1998 and sold his business in St.Paul, he and my mom left the cities for their dream home on a lake in Western WI. Dad was the first to put his dock in come spring and the last to take it out in the fall. It was a battle of the elements and it gave him the bragging rights on the lake. When my parents moved, I went from seeing them every day to talking every day (usually several times) and visiting once a week.
My dad’s health began to fail in the fall of 2006 right around the same time that I was blessed with a beautiful buck of a lifetime, an archery kill. Last Father’s Day, dad ran down to his local bait shop, as he leaned on the counter chatting with the clerk, a man came in asking if they had the July issue of “North American Whitetail”. Dad looked at the guy and stated, “That’s my daughter on the cover.” “Yeah right” was the reply. My dad hadn’t seen it yet, but he had been waiting - and I had been waiting. My fear was that my dad would never see it. For me it wasn’t about being on the cover of a magazine…it was about my dad seeing me on the cover of a magazine. It made my dad proud and no matter how old we are- we still want to make our dads proud. My dad was proud of me and I shine because of that.
My dad died unexpectedly two weeks after Father’s Day on June 28th, 2007 at the age of 63. We didn’t know that would be the last Father’s Day that we would spend with him.
The ripple-effect is in motion, set off by my grandpa into my dad through me and into my kids. We were at my parents' lake home the other day, cutting the grass for my mom. As I drove my dad’s tractor around, I watched my kids down on the dock fishing and I couldn’t help but cry as I thought how much my dad would have loved to see that: Wyatt and Leah down on the dock, baiting their own hooks, taking the fish off and throwing the line back into the water, moving the bobber gently once the ripples cleared.
I can still smell that fish-cleaning house and hear my dad laugh. I miss you, Dad, Happy Father’s Day!
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