In honor of Father’s Day, I want to share with you what I know for a fact is my Dad’s favorite story from when I was growing up.
When I was young, my father taught me to sail small boats and once a year we would take a week-long trip to one of the big bays in New Jersey.
We would spend a week, exploring sandbars, catching crabs, and me trying to tip him over the side while he napped.
The boat we sailed is probably not what you imagine: it was a 17ft-long day sailor that had no keel to stop us from tipping, and no cabin to sleep in. We cooked on a camp stove and slept in sleeping bags on deck. But the draft allowed us to get far into the shallows of the estuary and be truly alone.
The other detail is that we had no toilet. Most of the time, we used a bucket. But occasionally, we'd be near land when the moment struck.
One afternoon, I went high up a steep sand dune to enjoy the view. I dug my hole, worked out a comfortable angle, and took care of business with all of Barnegat Bay below me.
But shifting sands ensued, and well… my toilet paper rolled down the incredibly steep dune. I tried to grab the tail, but that only made it worse, unraveling fast. Off went the roll, with me hopelessly scrambling after it, flying down the dune with my pants at my ankles.
My dad died laughing. And has since retold this story a thousand times — including at my wedding. Because that’s what dads do.
While this is his favorite memory from those trips, what I recall is all the time and investment he made to make the trips happen. I remember the first time we ever set out, sailing off into a storm. I was scared as hell. Who spends a week in a daysailer? But the power of the two of us being out on our own, and the rewards of the trip gave me a gift that few kids ever receive.
Dad, thank you. Now it’s my turn to find those great ingredients that will become legendary stories about my son.
Dad story? Who’s got one?