My grandfather baited the hook with a worm. He did it slowly, allowing me to watch and learn. He handed the rod to me, held my arms and taught me to cast my line into the blue water. Our bobbers floated together, as we sat on the shore hoping for a bite.
'I remember when I could sit here and watch the fish swimming in the water.'
He said. 'Sometimes, they'd jump out and land beside me. I didn't need a rod and bait back then.' He was teasing me again. I liked it. The sun warmed us. We sat and talked.
'We have to be patient.' he continued. 'The fish may come or they may not. It doesn't matter. We're out in the sun. It's a beautiful day. If it had rained, we wouldn't be here. We're lucky to have the warmth of the sun.'
He leaned back against a tree and sighed. 'Yes, it's a great day.'
I watched our bobbers. No fish pulled them under that day. It didn't matter. I was with granddad. I felt grown up. Just being with him was special.
Later, I sat in the back of the boat and watched as he rowed. His powerful muscles rippled with each pull on the oars. I wanted to be like him when I grew up. He was well liked by everyone. He'd struggled hard all his life for the little he had, but he managed to find time to laugh.
Sim was an amazing man. In the short time we had together, he taught me many things: how to bait a hook, the love of a good laugh, the value of a good friend, respect for my elders, to work hard and to love harder. The list is long.
He didn't always teach me directly. I pictured him with my mom, when she was a child, teaching and guiding her to maturity. The things he taught her would be passed on to me.
The family tree is a learning tree. The larger, older branches support and guide the new smaller branches. They balance the family structure with their strength. Over time, the branches above grow large, join with other families, and shade the older branches below. The old branches grow weak from the lack of light, die and fall away. The branches above take over their role on the learning tree, supporting the new family members.Written by Michael T. Smith