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Gone Fishin' (standard:Inspirational stories, 789 words)
Author: Pamela JenkinsAdded: Jan 14 2003Views/Reads: 2212/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Gene and Merle were more than just friends. They were "fishing buddies."

The friendship between my Grandpa Merle and Gene went back long before I
was born. It seemed that Gene had always been around. Although not 
related to us, he was still a very important part of our family. Gene 
was Grandpa's fishing buddy. 

Early in the morning, Gene would drive over to my grandparents' house.
My grandpa would be watching out the window for the old Chevy's 
headlights to flash as they turned into the driveway. Grandpa was 
already dressed and ready to leave, and had his fishing gear standing 
outside the door. As he shuffled through the house, Grandma's dog 
Shorty would bail off the bed and snap at his heels. Grandpa would 
laugh loud enough to wake all of us. Even a nippy little dog couldn't 
squelch his excitement. Grandpa was going fishing. 

With nothing but a thermos of hot coffee and some cinnamon rolls from
the cafe, Grandpa and Gene would fish until they grew hungry enough to 
call it quits for the day. Sometime in the early afternoon, they would 
drive back to the house. We could hear them laughing and talking before 
they ever got out of the pickup. After they unhitched Grandpa's boat, 
they would come to the house carrying the catch of the day. 

We loved to eat the crappie and catfish they caught out on the lake.
Grandpa would add a little Tabasco sauce to the oil as it was heating, 
then drop the fish filets in when it was hot enough. Grandma would make 
cornbread and set out a plate of green onions. With a little fried 
potatoes on the side, it was royal feast. 

Gene worked as a pipe liner. Often his job would take him away from home
for a month or more at a time. Grandpa had other friends he fished with 
in Gene's absence, but somehow it didn't seem to be the same. As soon 
as his old friend called to say he was back in town, they made plans to 
take the boat out once more to the lake. 

As the years passed, we noticed that Grandpa started getting around a
little slower. The cool weather seemed to bother his rheumatoid 
arthritis more. A few times he called Gene and cancel their trip for 
the next morning, citing such excuses as the fish hadn't been biting as 
well lately, or the wind might be picking up too much to take the boat 
out on the water. When Grandpa could no longer climb into the boat by 
himself, Gene would gently lift his friend up and set him over the 
edge, steadying him until he got his balance. 

Gene's wife scolded her husband for continuing to go fishing with his
old buddy. She said, "What would happen if you had an accident on the 
water? What would Merle do if he was thrown overboard?" 

Gene pondered this question for a moment, then said, "Well, I guess he'd
have to sink or swim." Gene and Grandpa had a good laugh over his 
answer, though Gene's wife frowned at their sense of humor. Grandpa 
laughed even harder because of it. 

When Gene returned from one of his trips, he was shocked at the change
in his friend. Grandpa had lost weight. He seemed to be in a lot of 
pain, more than just the arthritis. A trip to the family doctor 
confirmed our worst fears. 

Cancer. Inoperable. 

In our grief and confusion, we tried to think of ways to beat this
disease. We talked about surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and the 
miracles of modern medicine. We cried and we prayed. We made plans to 
seek a second opinion. 

Grandpa, however, made plans of his own. He and Gene went fishing. 

A few short months later, I sat in the funeral home and listened to the
preacher talk about my grandfather and his life. My mind began to 
stray. I was miserable with grief. I missed Grandpa's hugs and jokes. 
Most of all, I missed his laughter and sense of humor. Tears flowed 
freely as I realized just how much I had lost when he passed away. 

The front of the room was amass with beautiful flowers of all colors.
There were so many wreaths and sprays, green plants and arrangements 
that at first, I missed seeing the yellow flowers. They sat in a 
prominent position, front and center, a bright ring of golden blooms. A 
yellow ribbon was draped across the front. Printed in large sparkling 
letters were the simple words, Gone Fishin'. 

I looked around the room until my eyes met his, brimming with tears. I
knew without a doubt who had sent those yellow flowers. I was also sure 
about something else. 

Grandpa would have loved it.


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