Best Day On The Water: Closing Chasms

By Steve Donovan

My introduction to the water came from my father's love of boating and fishing. Despite the common bond of family and love of the water, the chasm between father and son could be as wide as a canyon. The arguments between a gruff retired Naval officer and his free-spirited son were legendary in our family.

As the years rolled on, I settled into family life, and the old man softened up when the grandchildren began to arrive. Seeking to recapture the early years on the water, I purchased a Mako 171 and introduced my own kids to the wonders of the sea.

The following years saw my dad out on the water with me when the weather and his failing health allowed it. Our time together allowed me to see the real man behind the crusty exterior, and to grudgingly admit that he was right about so many things we disagreed on in my youth.

The last time he was able to come out, we puttered through a no-wake zone, and I looked forward to see him sitting with a cold drink, eyes closed, the sun warming his face. He was happy and content for the briefest moment with no doctors, needles, or testing in sight. At the end of the day, he "allowed" me to pick up the tab at his favorite waterfront restaurant. I was glad to do it. It was a small gesture for the sacrifices he made for our family.

As he was passing two months later, he smiled when I knelt at his bedside and through tears told him the boat was ready and gassed up at the marina waiting for us. I lost the greatest man I ever knew that day, and I cherish the memory of our times on the water together as a father and a grateful son. 

— Published: February/March 2018

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