“Fishing Buddies,” column for August 7, 2012

I’m a fisherman’s daughter and proud of it, but I will tell you this: I flat-out hate to fish.
I hate the hooks, the bait, the sitting and waiting and most of all, the not talking. The only parts of fishing I don’t hate are the fish I never catch.
My sister, who loves to fish as much as I do not, knows this about me. She must know it. I have told her countless times.
“Sissy,” I say slowly, as if trying to talk to a strong-willed stump, “I’d do anything in the world for you, more or less, pretty much, but hear me on this: I … don’t … fish.”
She nods, as if to say, “Yes, we all know you are … different.”
Different? I’ve been called worse. But knowing what I am does not stop her from trying to make me something I am not.
What else are sisters for?
When we were little girls, five years apart, our daddy would take her fishing, leaving me at home because, she said, she was his “boy.” I was just his “baby.”
They’d come back sun-burned and sleepy-eyed to gut and clean and batter and fry a big mess of whatever they had caught.
It all tasted like fish to me. I never acquired a taste for it. But for years, before I got anywhere near the sharp end of a hook, I was sure the act of fishing had to be the best thing anybody could ever hope to do.
When I told my mother that, she said my daddy felt the exact same way, which was one of the reasons she divorced him.
Imagine my thrill, when I was 8, to hear my dad say I was big enough to go fishing, just the two of us, without my sister. I don’t know where she was or why she couldn’t go. I didn’t care. It was going to be the best day of my life. And I could not wait to brag to her about it.
Have you ever noticed how the anticipation of a long-awaited event sometimes has a tendency to outshine the reality?
Fishing was not fun. It was dirty, smelly, and get this: I was not even supposed to talk!
My dad didn’t seem to have much fun at it, either. We went home without a nibble, which at least spared me the whole gutting, frying, eating mess.
I blamed my sister. Clearly she had tricked me. It’s a wonder we still speak. I tried fishing a few more times over the years, with much the same result. Finally it dawned on me. I didn’t need to be my daddy’s “boy.” I was happy just to be his “baby.”
Yesterday, my sister tricked me again. I was in town for a short visit. She wasted no time.
“Cree called,” she said. Cree is 11, her grandson. I wish you could see him. Talk about cute. “He wants to take us fishing.”
I shot her a look that said, “You know I hate to fish.”
She shot me one back that said, “Yes, but you love Cree.”
I couldn’t argue with that. Next thing I knew I was holding a pole, hoping I wouldn’t get a bite. Cree had dug the worms. My sister baited my hook. It was still and quiet. No need for talk.
I smiled at the two of them, Cree and his fishing buddy. I thought of my grandbabies in California. What kind of buddy would I be to them?
Moments later, my niece and her 8-year-old, Logan, joined us on the dock. I wish you could’ve seen them. Talk about cute.
Logan loves to talk. I don’t know where she gets it. The talking did not sit well with her cousin Cree. But my sister, their “Mimi,” handled it like a pro, quieting one, getting the other to be patient, being all things to both children at once.
That’s what grandmothers do. It’s like fishing: A dirty, smelly job, not always fun. It takes patience. Faith. Perseverance. Snacks. A well-stocked ice chest and a cushion to sit on ….
But to some, it’s the best thing anybody could ever hope to do.
What? No, I didn’t catch anything. Maybe next time I’ll bring my own fishing buddies.

Comments

  1. NortonsMITTY says:

    Wow! Stop the presses! A woman hates doing something where she can’t talk. Who knew?
    Really nice article though. Just couldn’t resist the softball.

  2. Amanda says:

    Cute story, and my daughter is happy to know she isn’t the only girl Logan!

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