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|Gone Fishin' (standard:Inspirational stories, 789 words)|
|Author: Pamela Jenkins||Added: Jan 14 2003||Views/Reads: 1879/0||Story 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. Tweet
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