I was ambivalent about sharing this video publicly, but my Mother asked me to do it, so I will follow her judgment.
I made this video with and for my father, Larry Zander, who died a few weeks ago, on May 27, 2011. He was 78.
For those of you who knew my Dad, you will instantly recognize him in his natural habitat.
To those of you who never met him, just know the river was his Church.
He taught me everything of value, including how to respect others, and how to love and engage the Lord with my mind as well as my spirit.
He also taught me something that I only came to realize as an adult, and that is the immense capacity of the human heart.
You see, I didn't meet Larry until I was eight years old.
He was not my biological father.
When my Mother first brought Larry into my young life, quite naturally my first instinct was to resist.
Yes, resist this stranger who was not only showing my Mother a great deal of attention, but was also replacing me as the man of the house!
Resist both him and his attempts to love me.
I can't tell you when it happened, there was no definitive moment, but somehow I learned to trust not only Larry, but God, too, for I truly believe He introduced Larry to my Mother.
Both of them knew what they were doing, though I was too young to know it.
When I stopped resisting, only then did I find love.
Last summer I asked Dad if we could shoot this video with my new camera, and so we awoke before dawn - uncomfortable for me, but old-hat to my Dad, a lifelong fisherman!
We spent the day together up on Crystal River in Waupaca, Wisconsin.
During Christmas 2010 I showed him this video, not without trepidation. After all, I had selected Cat Steven's "Father and Son" to underscore the piece, and I was initially concerned that Dad wouldn't like the theme of the song.
When the video ended, I looked over at him sitting on the other end of the couch. He was doubled-over, crying. He looked up at my Mom and simply said, "Play this at my funeral."
Which we did, on Memorial Day, in our backyard beside his trout pond.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. I will always love you. And thank you for everything.
-your son, William
UPDATE: 22 June 2012 After the recent increase of views over Father's Day, my mother asked me to include this addendum:
"I want to thank everyone that has seen, and everyone that has commented on, the video of my husband Larry Zander. Thank you all for your wonderful words, you have helped me through this time of loss. Everyone has touched my heart. God bless you all. Thank you! -E.J., Larry's wife and William's mom"