by Jon Easdon
Jon Easdon, Director of Services for Angler’s Covey, offers this tribute to his father, Woody, as we approach Father’s Day, 2019.
My father passed away several years ago on Father’s Day. Needless to say, grieving his loss has been a brutal experience, but it has been a valuable process. This is why.
I keep coming back to this story. As my Dad and I finished our sandwiches, I pondered the tough day on the water I had had up to that point. I had been fishing all day with very little luck. I was very early in my fly fishing journey, but I was also incredibly motivated to figure things out.
My Dad was with me, just watching me throughout the day and not even fishing. His typical “I’m just happy to be here” attitude shone through as he sat against a rock dozing off. This was his deal, everywhere we went outside. He was never in a hurry. He soaked it all in and just enjoyed being there. And he often napped.
I remember feeling pretty defeated and frustrated when my Dad asked me if he could fish the run I had been fishing for quite some time. He was a spin fisherman and didn’t care much for fly anglers. It’s not that he didn’t like fly fishing; he just thought fly fishermen were pretentious.
I said ‘yes’ and walked down to the river’s edge. I’ll never forget what he said right before he took that first cast.
“Jon, instead of being frustrated with not catching fish, try focusing on the fact that you are outside on a beautiful river, living life outside of four walls. Do you know how many people would kill to be where you are right now?”
My 12-year old self didn’t realize the wisdom in that, but the thing is that I heard him. That statement has stuck in my head my whole life.
He literally took one cast in the same run I had been fishing and hooked a beautiful mid-20” trout. After he landed it, I remember feeling a mix of emotions. I was mad because it only took him one cast to hook that fish. I was in awe that he hooked that big fish with his single cast. And I was also deeply proud that this guy was my Dad.
This was one of countless experiences I had with my Dad and, in retrospect, the lessons were always the same no matter the setting.
My Dad taught me to love the outdoors. He taught me to respect it and never take it for granted. He showed me what really mattered in life, and that it was far beyond material possessions or social status. No matter if it was on the water fishing or tracking an elk in the backcountry, the lesson was always the same: appreciate every chance to get outdoors. He made me who I am.
As life progresses we all grow up. In that process we start to anchor to these early childhood memories. We start to see, really see, the true value of the little lessons we encountered growing up. I think about this all of the time. As a father myself now, I try and carry this into everything I do with my kids, especially in the outdoors. I find myself saying those cliché sentences my Dad always said to me. I can only hope that one day my words and actions are as impactful to my children as his have been to me. I hope I can pay it forward.
Thank you for giving it your all, Dad. I owe everything to you.