This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
June 20th, 2005

Courtesy, Honor and Respect

Today was Father's Day here in the United States - forgive me, I don't know if other countries celebrate the day, or have a different way to honor their fathers. For the most part the holiday here is 'commercial' - but still, if it allows families to recognize dad for even one special day it has value.

For many of us 'older' folks, our dads have passed on and I'm sure some of us shared the memories of dad today, especially during our growing-up years.

I fished with my dad - and mom too. They both enjoyed freshwater fishing and kept a boat somewhere on Lake Huron or Lake Michigan for years. There was perch fishing, catfishing, small mouth bass, and trolling for the salmon in Lake Michigan off the beach at Frankfort. My dad had been a commercial fisherman, and I think he was the happiest during those years. It was hard work, darn hard work and long hours during difficult times, especially the war years.

My dad was a fly fisher as well, but I was not invited to fly fish with him. He had one fly fishing buddy, a neighbor, Arthur Seaholm. Actually I was a kid at the time, and Mr. Seaholm was an older, Swedish gentleman, who probably thought girls shouldn't be fly fishers anyway. It was a different time, and there were always certain social customs and manners to be considered.

My grandfather taught me to fly fish. I had a lot of help over the years, but it was grandfather who was the beginning. He called me 'pumpkin,' and I was allowed to accompany him in his jaunts to the 'woods.' That could on any given day include a trip to the fish-house down on the lake for smoked fish, somewhere in the woods for berry picking, mushroom hunting or fishing! My grandfather is long gone; my dad passed May 25th, 2002.

I know for sure my grandfather knew how much I appreciated his wonderful attention those many summers I spent with him and my grandmother in Rogers City, Michigan. He was very kind and loving to a kid, who could be a pain in the neck with so many questions. In fact I learned much of what has become so valuable to me as a human being from the two of them. Their influence was European to be sure. Grandfather immigrated with his brothers from Germany, grandmother came from Holland with her whole family who settled around Holland, Michigan.

I don't believe their manners and courtesy were any different than their neighbors or folks of their ages at that time. But it was a time when those things were important. Not just important, very important - if you didn't have manners and courtesy you were nothing.

My husband, (you know him as JC or Castwell) and I were talking about the coarseness of our society. How much the language has deteriorated, use of four-letter words, loss of respect for our elders, overuse of sex to sell anything, violence in everything and we wonder why we have problems in schools, on the streets, road rage, child abuse, all of it...

There was a time, not all that long ago when "please" and "thank you" were always said. When you were invited for dinner you took something (or at least offered) and if you had been a house guest, a thank-you note - along with a small gift - were sent when you returned home. In case you missed that day in charm school, it was called a "bread and butter gift." Now someone can be rowed down a river for a free day of guided fishing and not even bother to say "thanks" much less anything else. How very sad. I hope that wasn't you.

Correspondence may not be totally dead, email seems to get through quite well - but the art of conversation is not doing well at all. In fact, I wonder how many people actually carry on conversations with neighbors or folks they don't work with, or that isn't work related. I suspect a lot of folks would come to our Chat Room, but they are afraid they don't have anything to say. If they fly fish or tie flies how could they not have something to talk about? But they've forgotten how. We have the always on, in-your-face television to thank for that.

When is the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? Writing on the computer can count - but not an email. This has to be a real letter, stamp, in the mail.

Now you are asking yourself, why is she asking that?

Because if you still have a father alive, I would like you to consider writing him a letter. You've probably discovered the 'old man' isn't half as dumb as you once thought, and you may even realize he taught you some very good things. If you were lucky enough to have a dad teach you fishing or any outdoor skills that warrants a letter. If you now understand he really was trying to teach you right from wrong, you better let him know you figured it out while you can. If he set an example of caring for family and home for you to follow - start writing.

We are not immortal. Life continues on, but we lose those we love - and sometimes much before we are ready.

Maybe you did something wonderful for your dad for Father's Day. Whatever you did, it will not compare to a simple letter, thanking dad for who and what is he.

It is called courtesy, honor and respect. ~ DLB

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