Since before I can even remember, I would go fishing with my Uncle Roscoe.. any time, any day.. it never mattered. I can remember him coming into my room and pulling on my toe and then saying “Come on, Kitten. We’re goin Feeshin”. I would leap out of that bed, get dressed [I can even remember pulling on my jeans and sweatshirt OVER my pajamas a few times, in my eagerness] and off we would go, leaving Aunt Fern standing at the door smiling. It never mattered how early it was. It never mattered if it was cold or rainy. It never mattered how far we walked or over what sort of ground or fences we trekked. I was going fishing with my Uncle Roscoe and that was all that mattered.
My Uncle Roscoe taught me about so many things beyond fishing-many of which he may never have realized he was passing along. If I try to put those lessons into words, I fall far short. There are no words for so much of what that man passed on to me. But when I think of him, I think of fishing. I think of our sitting beside a pond, just the two of us, talking and laughing, and I remember that feeling of loving and being loved so completely.
Uncle Roscoe passed away in 2004. A large part of my heart broke away and went with him. I was last able to see him in 1996, but we talked often on the telephone. In the weeks just before he passed away, he began telling me stories of his youth. It occurred to me later that, perhaps, he had some idea and wanted those stories to not be forgotten. I hold them close always.
So, early this morning, after dropping my youngest off at her job, I went to the lake, took out my pole and my container of nightcrawlers, and sat down to see how hungry those fish really were.
To be honest, for me it is never about catching the fish. It is never about cleaning them and taking them home, because I never do. To me, it is about carrying on what Uncle Roscoe brought to my life. It is about sitting there and remembering the sound of his voice and his laughter. It is about all those times he sat back for ME to bait the hook myself and for ME to take the fish off the hook myself. It is about that look on his face because he was proud of me. It is about that feeling in my heart when I knew I COULD.
I spent three hours with Uncle Roscoe this morning ‘drowning’ worms. I caught one tiny blue gill and was perfectly content with that. I listened to the frogs and the cicadas and the birds. I felt the breeze across my skin. I felt the sun on my skin, and I watched an actual eagle soaring across the lake. I watched other fishermen in their own content places. I watched the ripple on the water as the wind touched it.
And I felt Uncle Roscoe touch my heart and say “We’re feeshin, Kitten.”.