My dad, my hero

So many little girls think of their dad as their hero. In my case, he literally was my hero. He saved my life.

I grew up a country girl in the 1950s. My dad, Roy Bliss, could do anything and everything. He helped his dad with cattle on Grandpa’s farm. He worked with my mom’s dad on the fruit farm. This was in addition to working full-time as a journeyman/machinist/machine repairman for Rochester Products, a division of General Motors. Then there were the odd jobs, including fixing washing machines and rolling lawns. I’ll never know how he did it all. He was an inspiration and his work ethic has been a driving force in the lives of his children.

When he had a rare moment to relax, one of Dad’s favorite things to do was to head out on Lake Ontario. An accomplished fisherman, he went into the fishing charter business after he retired. But long before he became “Captain Roy” of JR Charters, he was Dad, the captain of my heart.

One summer day, when I was probably around 5, Dad invited me to join him for a boat ride. It was a gorgeous day. The sunshine turned the lake into sparkling diamonds. The waves danced toward us, and I felt like a princess. In no time at all, it was time to go home. He carefully helped me out of the boat. I was safe on the dock. Or so he thought.

I’m not sure what I had decided to take a closer look at, but the next thing I knew, I had run out of dock and was in another world. I don’t know what most people’s natural reaction would be if this happened to them, but I remember mine. I curled up into a ball. I could hear Dad’s voice, but was disoriented and couldn’t make out what he was saying. Suddenly, there was a splash, and Dad’s strong arms pulled me up. He wasn’t angry, but I think he was scared. He didn’t rush me right out of the water, but had to show me something first.

“Wait, try to put your feet down. I’m right here,” he said.

Much to my surprise, when I stood up straight, the water wasn’t deep. In fact, it only came to my chin. Would I have figured that out myself? I don’t think so.

Over the years, Dad taught me many things how to drive, how to balance a checkbook, and doing the right thing even when others give you grief for it. That day at the lake, when he saved me, he also taught me something I’ve tried to keep in mind throughout my life. Sometimes, when you feel that you’re overwhelmed and drowning, try to plant your feet and stand up. Maybe you’re not really in over your head after all.

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