The old man stopped me a third time in that many months at a breakfast where I volunteer to cook and he volunteers to come and eat. He insisted I stop by his place when I had some time. He had something for me and I would probably like it. He was right.He acted like it was no big deal as he couldn’t be in a boat anymore and he was never going fishing again. The look in his eyes and the stories that began to slip out told me I was now in possession of way more than his box of fishing memories. The box was full of family values long rejected. It may as well have been the family Bible from the old country. When I questioned him he was adamant that his box of memories was not going to be passed on to his children or grandchildren. All his fishing tackle was going to a place where God, family, grandparents, and fishing were still creating a rich heritage. His fishing tackle would begin a new legacy where (in his words) “the grandchildren are legitimate and will spend time with their grandpa”.
Sometimes happenings can not be put into words because they are not enough. It is like capturing the essence of one’s experience in the mountains in a photograph. It can’t be done. I do know which hooks caught 20 lb pike and which caught monster lake trout. I do know some of the stories. I also know there are many more to be created.
Words also cannot capture the look in the old mans eyes when I told him I would bring him some fish caught by some of the kids I take fishing. He might not be able to fish anymore, but I think the old codger found a way to pay himself forward.