"Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express."
- Joseph Addison
It won't last forever. I can't will it so.
This young woman--and I swear just last week she was an awkward little girl who needed her dad every second of every day--wielded her tenkara rod with patient expertise. And she stood--consciously--a football field away from me. She'd staked out her own water and fished it on her terms. No need for a "Fish here, Honey," or, "You might try that run right there." This was her fishing trip.
Call it sappy parental sentimentality if you want--watching my little girl strike out on her own with a fly rod in hand touched me to core. It was, all at once, one of my proudest and most desperate moments. And, of course, I enabled it. I encouraged it.
I thought I wanted it.
But now, remembering back to when this same little girl was a clumsy toddler who would hold my hand as we walked the banks of the creek, I realized that my desire for my daughter to grow up and mature, to want to fish rather than just come along for the day, might have been a bit misguided. Those days when fishing was a secondary endeavor to a day simply spent outside were precious days, indeed. Days that ended with throwing rocks in the creek rather than releasing wild and native cutthroat back to the water were days neither of us will forget.
And as I watched my little girl--now a beautiful young lady-- eyeing the water and carefully targeting riffles and runs with the long rod, I knew this was a trip I would store forever in my head ... and my heart. And now, just a few days later, I've come to realize that fishing isn't the only thing she'll be doing on her own in the coming years. Soon, she'll be behind the wheel. She'll be headed off to college before I know it.
And I don't want to talk about boys. Period.
When I think about the time we have left ... well, I can hardly catch my breath.
But as we wandered the banks of this little creek the other day, I was heartened to see that a sliver of that little girl I once knew remained as we came across a really deep run in the stream.
"This would be a great swimming hole, Daddy," she said, as she looked over the deep, green water. "And I bet I could I skip a rock three or four times across the creek right here."
I smiled and nodded. I eagerly started scanning the rocky stream bank for that perfect skipping stone--flat and round and smooth. It was there, somewhere. It always is, you know.
"Wait, Daddy," she said, putting her hand on my arm. She plucked the little caddis she'd been using throughout the day from the cork grip of the rod and gave the stream a long, critical look. Then she looked back at me.
"We should fish it first."