60 years. That is a lot of years.
My grandfather was the one I credit the most with fueling my passion for fishing and so the conversation naturally went straight to that. I don't see him near as much as I used to since we moved to Central Texas almost a decade ago. I hadn't realized how far age had seeped into his bones. I knew how old he was but to see it was different. Having him explain it was even worse.
We talked about kayaking and belly boats (which we just call tubes in Texas) and reminisced about great outings. I asked about an upcoming camping trip and if he needed a place to park the boat. "I don't have a boat anymore," he reminded me. Oh yeah. Forgot about that. I asked about my uncle's boat. " I just don't trust myself in a boat anymore," he said quietly. Talk about ripping your guts out and slopping them out on the floor. That just stopped me cold.
I know that my grandfather loves to fish more than just about anything in the world. My mind went to racing. Then I spoke up, "What about a place near the water where we can catfish, setup a spread, you know, right by the trailer?" That glow and sparkle came back into his eye as he agreed that would be a great idea.
We enjoyed the night talking, eating and dreaming of fishing.
On the drive home, with nothing but the highway noise to listen too, my thoughts became loud. I always assumed, subconsciously of course, that he would always be in a boat, always ready to whip me on the water, and always bring along the peanut butter crackers and Diet Pepsi. (To this day I can't eat a peanut butter cracker without a Diet Pepsi). The reality of age is starting to sink in. My hero is fading and I just noticed it. It all ends sooner or later. I get it. I'd just prefer much, much later.
I vowed silently in my car to enjoy the time I have left with him. As stubborn as an 83 year old can be, that might be another two decades. I plan to fill those with plenty of fish. Even if it is from the bank. The little white lie that all true fishermen know: It's not really about the fish.
Thanks PaPa. I love you.