fishing in heaven
By Scott Morris
We marked the years by fishing trips.
Remember that time a storm almost capsized us on Lake Watauga? We were catching slab crappie by lantern light when the storm blew over the Appalachians. The swells slapped the boat as you opened up the old Johnson outboard and headed for the dock.
Remember that time we were chest deep in the surf at Fort Morgan, pulling in speckled trout and bluefish, and the dark shadow of a huge bull shark torpedoed between us? Man, we got out of there in a hurry.
Remember that time snow blanketed the dock at Smith Lake? I slid off the pier and disappeared into the abyss. You looked amused when I shot out of that cold water like a bullet. I went back to the truck to strip off the wet clothes and put on a dry snowmobile suit. Then we had a good laugh and went fishing.
I can’t remember the first time you took me on the water, but an old black and white photo shows us in a boat on a trailer, me just a baby, you in your straw hat. Fishing was like breathing or eating or going to church on Sunday morning.
During the week, you wore blue herringbone overalls and supervised a team of second-shift workers in the hot and noisy confines of a copper-tubing factory. But you reserved Saturdays for fishing. You thrived on fresh air, cloudless skies, green trees, clear water, rocky shorelines and a peace that passes understanding.
Nothing could keep you off the local lakes and rivers, and it seemed your endurance and longevity would carry on forever. But you eventually outlived your ability to negotiate a launch ramp. You sold your boat. You gave me your rods, reels and tackle boxes.
“Maybe you’ll start fishing again some day,” you told me.
At the funeral, I thought about your 93 years, your quiet and gentle ways, your mischievous streak. And I thought about the great love of the outdoors you instilled in me.
I wonder what you’re doing now. Walking the streets of gold? Taking in an angelic concert? Watching a cork bob up and down on Paradise Lake?
Remember that cool day during spring break when you ran the boat up Rock Creek as far as it would go? The current flowed fast and clear as we anchored under dogwoods that bloomed white against the Alabama sky. For hours, we caught plump bass as fast as we could reel. We smiled and laughed — our best day ever — on a creek somewhere between here and the hereafter.