My Daddy – My Hero

Barbara H | Somewhere in Michigan, back in the 60s

You have asked for river stories – I do not write very well, but I will join in.

My family went camping every year, often on a lake or a river. There are many wonderful memories attached to these times.

One outing will remain outstanding. My dad was my hero – literally – that day. He saved me and my sisters from certain death (I was convinced of that) at threat of his own life.

We had gone canoeing that morning. It was a calm, quiet, peaceful morning. We enjoyed a slow, leisurely pace. We saw many animals that day, including a rattlesnake crossing the river ahead of us. Way cool, but slightly scary… My parents and two of my siblings in one canoe, two of my sisters and I in the other.
As I was the littlest sister, I never got to paddle the canoe – I always had to sit in the middle. That day, my mother promised I could get a chance at paddling. At the halfway break, my sisters “forgot” to do the switch.

The trip was almost over and I still had not gotten my chance to paddle. So I called over to my parents, to let me have a turn. My mother told my sisters to pull up at the sandy piece of shore we could see up ahead.

My parents reached the shore first and pulled onto it. My sisters missed the pull in. So we landed a little further up – in the bushes. Which meant that my sister would have to get out and push the canoe back into the river.

…Then it happened…

Luckily before she got out, we realized that we “landed” in a rattlesnake “nest” – they were squirming all over. I get the shivers even now thinking of the sight. I don’t remember, but I am sure we screamed and were making a big fuss. We were very scared. We were stuck!

…My father got out of their canoe, because someone had to push our canoe back into the river, and made his way through the bushes to us. Now we were not only petrified for our own lives – but now my father had to get through the snakes to reach us! It was a dangerous maneuver, but someone had to get us back into the water. A dad is a dad, and does everything to save his kids.

My dad did just that. I am sure he was not thrilled being there within the snakes either, but he did what had to be done. He got to us, gave a good and quick shove, even having to slightly lift the canoe – and we were free and safely back in the river.

We were still holding our breaths, as he still had to get back to his canoe! And we really only felt safe after he (and rest of family) joined us back in the river.

My dad was my hero – literally, that day. And I will never forget it.

…As far as I recall, we never canoed that river again but it was not our only incident with poisonous snakes. It was also not the only time our father saved us.

My father passed on this year, and I miss him terribly. (Alas, my mother passed shortly after him – I miss them both!)

My river story; my daddy – my hero!

PS In case you are wondering, I never did get to paddle that day, but it was a canoe trip I shall never forget!

Support the protection of 5,000 new miles of wild and scenic rivers