This is for all those people out there without a dad...
Maybe he is on the other side of the world, maybe you have never met him or maybe as in my case, there is no way you will ever see him as he is no-more. I lost my father when I was six years old; he had a heart problem from birth and died in 1987. Tragically for him and all that knew and loved him this is now something that can be fixed… shortly after my dear father died, the first person with the same condition as him was cured.
Like my father (Christopher/Chris), I live and work in the River Wye. Chris was a salmon fisherman, publican and the host with the most. In his final days he was the proprietor of a fishing lodge next to Erwood bridge on the Upper Wye. He would look after wealthy fishermen, take them fishing during the day and cook them the spoils of their day at night. There was no ‘catch and release’ in those days and as a result I do not remember a day where I didn’t eat salmon. Dressed salmon at night and then salmon leftovers in bubble and squeak for breakfast the next day, not a bad deal at all!
The fishing lodge is where he passed away and if truth be told this is where I found him dead late summer of 1987. People find the fact that I found him dead aged six really difficult to consider. I actually count this as a blessing in disguise. It was actually a deeply personal moment that I will never forget. I wish I had been able to speak to him and not a day goes by when I wish I could see him one last time. But the fact I found him means alot to me and at the very least had some time with him alone before his physical body was removed from this world forever. In the days leading up to his death, I had spent every minute with him in the River Wye. We had been salmon fishing every day and while he was busy catching fish I was playing in the reeds surrounding the river pretending to be Tarzan (one of my heroes). These last days with my father were the best in my life. I will never forget those summer days with him and his guests, great times, and those times are what I hold onto when I feel lost without him. I am lucky to have spent any time with him at all… I’m hugely aware that many others have never known what it’s like having a dad.
Fathers Day is a normally BIG day for us on the canoes and the farm is busy all weekend with families. Some years we’ve even welcomed more extravagant groups; self titled groups such as Dadventure, Dad Camp and Dads Club – and I must stress this is always a pleasure… I never resent anyone else spending time with their Dad, I actively encourage it and although it can be gut-wrenching at times it’s also an enormous privilege being a part of other Father Day goings-on and doing our bit to make them that bit extra-special.
This year with the pandemic spanner in the works some people will be unable to spend time with their family on this usually joyful day. Some people may have recently lost their father due to the pandemic. I think it is important for us all to try and take something from this year, we should try and harness some good from this unusually difficult year. I will have more time on my hands than usual this Fathers Day and will be thinking about those who have lost their father, whilst also giving thanks for those other special people still present in my life. It is important to reflect on ones life, it is important to change and evolve your feelings as time goes on. But above all, try to remain happy and positive. My happy place is the River Wye, I find solace in the river and I am so lucky to be able to work in the place my father worked.
Lots of love, Aubrey Fry x