Fishhawk Lake A Father's Day Tribute To a Father From His Son

By
Real Estate Agent with Vernonia Realty 700512026

 

 

This is such a perfect Father’s Day story that I have decided to re-blog it from my post last year.

 

Finding Fishhawk Lake A Touching Tribute To a Father From His Son

 

Fishhawk Lake Spring-Gayle Rich-Boman

 

Gary Mortensen loved his dad. That will be readily apparent after you are taken on his journey through a time of childhood and adulthood with his father and their drives to Fishhawk Lake.

 

I didn't know Gary until this week, but felt very close to him already because of his love for Fishhawk Lake and the magic that it has brought to his life. It also was the catalyst in bringing his father and him closer together. I asked Gary after a poignant conversation if he would allow me the honor of reprinting his memoir dedicated to his dad on Father's Day in 2009. He was incredibly generous and didn't hesitate to say yes. Thank you so much, Gary, for letting me share your story.

 Gary Mortensen Author, Filmmaker

 

A Father's Day Reflection: Finding Fishhawk Lake

Dad drove up to my house on Thursday for our semi-monthly drive. The "get in the car and drive day" was something we had started doing years earlier as a way to stay connected in each other's lives. In the past we had talked of fishing trips to Alaska, going to Sweden and other grand adventures but after so many years of talking and never doing, we both silently conceded to scale things back and simply go for a drive.

That I got to do the driving was a big accomplishment in its own right, as Dad was never really comfortable with anyone else behind the wheel. He was funny about the whole being-in-control thing, but I imagine the stroke that left him with a bad eye and atrophied right hand proved enough to let him relinquish the reins.

The first time we took one of these drives was back in the mid-'90s. My wife was on the verge of making me a first-time father and the world seemed big and full of possibilities. Dad was one of those men from a past generation where saying "I love you" was not something that came naturally.

The only son of Depression-era parents, he worked hard his entire life to provide for us, and when he took time for himself, it was usually to go hunting or fishing with his father. I tried following that lead, but I never became the hunter or fisherman that I think Dad might have hoped for, so we rarely did special activities together. It was in my mid-30s that one day at a family event we both agreed that I should take a day off in the middle of the week and just "go for a drive."

On our very first road trip we pointed the car in the general direction of the Oregon coast and set off. It was a warm, easy Oregon morning and we talked for hours as we drove. We talked about things we had never discussed before, speaking openly and honestly with each other, and I got to know my Dad in ways I never thought I would.

We stopped in Vernonia

Vernonia Lake Vernonia Oregon 97064

 

 and had lunch at a small family restaurant and Dad kept raving about how good the food was. He smiled and said we would have to come back and eat here again some time. Dad even let me buy, no small gesture for such a proud man. Not long after lunch we meandered from one back road to another until we came to a sign that read "Fishhawk Lake."

After driving down a narrow, heavily wooded road, we found a small, scenic lake with cabins all around it. It was a magical discovery. I parked the car and we just sat there and looked at the lake and talked. We spoke of dreams and aspirations, of buying one of the cabins and of what it means to become a father. I had never felt such love from my dad before and I know he felt it too.

Last year when he pulled up, we both smiled, happy to be with each other again . As I was driving, I asked, "Where to, Dad?" and he said "Hey, let's go find that lake." I nodded in agreement. It had been 14 years and it was indeed time to find that lake again.

As I drove we talked: Of old stories and broken-down bodies, of little boys becoming men, and mostly of the heartbreak of losing Mom. She had died a few weeks earlier after a valiant but brutal two-year battle with cancer. The familiarity of the drive offered quiet solace as we stopped in Vernonia for our special lunch. Dad told stories of his days as a policeman in Lompoc, Calif., and of his time as a semi-professional baseball player, and while his eyes would light up, the story would always lead to Mom and his head would drop.

After lunch we decided it was time to go and find the lake. I drove out of town down roads vaguely familiar. Neither of us spoke much and soon I came to a road that forced me to turn either right or left. I paused, then started to turn left when Dad said softly, "Son, I think it's to the right." I remained convinced that the lake was to my left, but Dad looked at me and tapped me gently on the arm, steering me towards the right decision as he had done so many times before in my life.

And so I turned right. And soon enough we were there again at Fishhawk Lake.

Fishhawk Lake July 4th-Gayle Rich-Boxman

 

 We sat in the car in silence, each of us thinking quietly of the woman we had lost. I looked at this proud but broken man and my heart ached for him. Nothing would ever be the same.

My sons and I saw Dad two days later. We went down to McMinnville and spent the entire day with "Papa." The day went by incredibly fast and as I was leaving I hugged him and told him I loved him. He looked at me with tender eyes and told me, "I love you too, son." The next day I got a call that Dad had died in his sleep. That was a year ago and it is just now that I am able to write about it.

This Father's Day I plan to take my sons to go see that lake. I will tell them stories about their Papa, eat at the same restaurant and park in the same place by the lake where Dad and I parked. I will tell my boys I love them and I will cherish every moment.

Gary Mortensen lives in Tigard.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

My dad was my hero. He still is. His birthday is today, so it's especially hard since he is no longer living. He never got to see Fishhawk Lake, but his photo as a young man very proudly showing us his catch (a Pike caught in the St. Lawrence River at the Thousand Islands where I spent many happy summers) has a prominent spot in our home on Fishhawk Lake.

 

 

Dad is standing in our old boathouse at the Islands. Mom found this years after my dad was gone. It totally captures the joy of living on a lake, fishing, enjoying family and the simpler things in life. All in that smile!

I love you, Dad. And I miss you every day 

 

 

 

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Rainmaker
1,181,042
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
What a beautiful story and breathtaking photos to accompany it. A perfect Father's Day post!
Jun 16, 2012 05:33 PM #26
Rainmaker
1,713,614
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors - Austin, TX
Realtor-Canyon Creek- NW, Austin TX Homes For Sale

Hi Gayle,

OMG this is the best story....Love your photos....thanks so much for sharing!!

Jun 16, 2012 05:55 PM #27
Rainmaker
605,225
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Hurt, VA

I remember this. It is still a very moving tribute. It should get another feature.

Jun 16, 2012 06:12 PM #28
Rainmaker
613,549
Don Sabinske
Don Sabinske, Sabinske & Associates Inc. - Zimmerman, MN
Sabinske & Associates Inc.

Both of your stories are fitting tributes to fathers.  I just hope that my son will see me in the same light that you both saw your fathers. 

Jun 16, 2012 06:20 PM #29
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Susan Emo
Sotheby's International Realty Canada - Brokerage - Kingston, ON
Kingston and the 1000 Islands Area

Gayle -  you captured me with this beautiful story!  And of course, that wonderful photo of your Dad in 'our' part of the world, the mighty St Lawrence River and our 1000 islands.  What a handsome man your Dad was too!  We never lose our memories of our fantastic Fathers - mine has been gone 10 years and I miss him every single day.

Jun 16, 2012 06:31 PM #30
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Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

I also remember this one Gayle. A perfect time of year to present it again.

Jun 16, 2012 06:52 PM #31
Rainmaker
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Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This a wonderful rememberance and very heartwarming on the eve of father's day. Thanks for sharing this beautiful tribute.

Jun 16, 2012 07:30 PM #32
Rainmaker
575,477
Phil Leng
Keller Williams Eastside Market Center - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng Team - Residential Real Estate Experts &

Hi Gayle,

YOu did it!

You brought tears to my eyes!!

Phil

Jun 17, 2012 02:00 AM #33
Rainmaker
1,521,866
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

My thoughts and prayers are with you today Gayle since I know how difficult Father's Day is for you.  This is such a wonderful story about Gary, his Dad and his boys..................love the photo of your handsome Dad too!

Jun 17, 2012 02:14 AM #34
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Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Hey, Gayle!  I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.  Have a great week.

Jun 17, 2012 06:33 AM #35
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Debb Janes
The Carl Group, LLC - Camas, WA
REALTOR®, EcoBroker Camas, Washington

Hey Sweetie,

 I loved this post before, and your update this year is perfect. Glad to see another gold star. ;)

 I also know how much you loved your father and you honor him well on his birthday and Father's Day.
The card for Larry is adorable - I assume he's heading to OH on business...

Regardless, hope you have a good day Gayle, and I'm thinking about you. Call me this week if you get a moment, I'd love to hear the latest Kasa antics. Love ya.

Jun 17, 2012 07:27 AM #36
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John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty * www.AlbuquerqueHomes.com - Albuquerque, NM
AlbuquerqueHomes.com, Albuquerque Homes Realty

 Gayle what a touching and heart felt story my friend.  Thank you for sharing with us.

Jun 17, 2012 09:13 AM #37
Rainmaker
1,144,426
Robert (Bob) Gilbert
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Katy, TX
Your Katy TX Real Estate Expert

Gayle,

Two incredible tributes to their Dad's by both you and Gary. Yes these tributes brought tears to my eyes. I would suggest but your blog is already featured. Congrats on that as this is a very special heart felt blog on Dads Day.

Jun 17, 2012 10:21 AM #38
Rainmaker
659,023
Evelyn Kennedy
Gallagher & Lindsey, Alameda, California - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA

Gayle:

A sweet story. It is so nice to hear these stories about Dads and their kids and what are the important things in life.

Jun 17, 2012 01:04 PM #39
Rainmaker
2,067,429
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Thanks for sharing this Father's Day story.

Have an outstanding week with your camera in hand.

Jun 17, 2012 05:53 PM #40
Rainmaker
1,149,627
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Oh Gayle, what a special and moving story. Gary is the kind of person who would make any father proud. I remember the picture of your Dad from a previous comment. This was such a great story and it was a joy to read.

Jun 17, 2012 05:56 PM #41
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William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE
Hi Gayle, This is so very special and extraodinary. You captureed both my imagination and my spirit with marvelous double tribute to Gary's Dad and yours as well. Certainly deseved the Special Feature of the Father's Day Award.
Jun 17, 2012 07:24 PM #42
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Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905
Vernonia Realty - Vernonia, OR
"Your Gateway to the Lake" Birkenfeld Oregon

Happy Father's Day to all of you special dads out there who make such a difference in all of our lives.

Thank you, everyone for your heartfelt words.

Jun 17, 2012 08:36 PM #43
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Praful Thakkar
Keller Williams Realty - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Gayle, great story....and perfect or I'd say, timely re-blog. Happy Father's to day to all ActiveDads.

Jun 17, 2012 10:10 PM #44
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Todd Clark
Keller Williams Realty - Beaverton, OR
Broker - Beaverton, Oregon Real Estate Expert - (503) 524-9494

Wow, what a great story and I do know those drives and my father and I have done those drives myself and everytime I find out something new about him.

 

Jun 19, 2012 12:16 PM #45
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Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905

"Your Gateway to the Lake" Birkenfeld Oregon
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