March 22, 2010

Go Fish

Growing up on a farm in a small town, I was asked by my sophisticated city cousins and friends, "Don't you ever get bored?" Alternatively, "What do you do for fun?"

My grandparents had a small lake and a rowboat and many summer evenings after Grandma had cleaned up the dinner dishes, she would grab her tackle box and walk down to the lake. She would take the rowboat to the middle of the water. As the ripples gently lapped the side of her boat, the sun cast a fiery glow on the placid water as it set behind the pine grove. Grandma would cast out her line. The red and white bobber would float gracefully on the surface of the water and Grandma would just watch for a nibble. We lived nearby and sometimes we would go visit in the evening. I loved when we got there before Grandma went out in the water, but if I did not, I would wait patiently on the dock until Grandma was done.

The times I was able to go out on the boat with her, I would chatter up a storm. Grandma would just smile and keep watching the bobber. One day she told me how fish would not bite if there is talking. I understood. This was a time to be quiet. Most of the time we never even caught any fish, but we never felt cheated. Rowing the boat back to the shore, cleaning up the tackle box and walking through the field back to the house, I learned the importance of silence in my life.

Today, when the noise in my world threatens to overwhelm me, I pause and reflect. When I find myself running from one lesson to another, to the grocery store and then to the cleaners, I mentally row out on my grandparent's lake and cast out my line. I still rarely catch any fish. However, it never has been about the fish.

I row back in renewed and fresh.

Thank you, Grandma.

When I was a young married adult, my grandparents split their farm into saleable lots. My spouse and I thought about buying the lake, but without the path to and from the house, it felt less than authentic. It was more important to let someone else create a new magic on the lake. I pray they did.

I dedicate this story to my grandmother, Gertrude, who would have been 96 today. She was one of the most incredible women my life ever touched.

She didn’t end her life on the farm with the lake, but I doubt she ever needed the lake to know the importance of fishing. Thank you, always, Grandma. We love you and will always hold you close. You are our matriarch.


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