The one that got away

Grandma Kitty pulled her shiny case knife from the pocket of her blue apron. She reached down far to the bottom of the cane pole and cut it.
“This will make a good one,” she said, as she handed it to a three-year-old me. Then she cut one for herself.
As we walked to her favorite spot along Frogleg Creek, I could not help but take a peak within the small metal pail she had given me to carry. I knew it would have something good for us to eat, like some chocolate pie or a piece of coconut cake.
I almost fell down when as I looked beneath the lid, only to have my hopes dashed by a bucket of dirt filled with red wigglers.
“Granny, what are we going to have to eat,” I said. “I thought this was our food.”
“It is food, but it is for the fishes,” she said.
“You will have to wait till we find some berries or maybe a plum tree,” she said.
“What are we going to do with these poles?” I said.
“I am going to tie some string on them and you and I are going to spend the morning fishing,” she said.
As we walked along the trail, I noticed a stick lying across the trail. I rushed ahead to pick it up.
“Hold your horses, boy,” she said, as she took her cane pole and popped on the back of what I thought was a stick. The stick slithered away like a bolt of lightening.
“That’s your first rule of being in the mountains, son — be careful where you put your hands,” she said. “We share this space with all kinds of critters. Some don’t care much for sharing.”
As we reached the spot along the banks of the creek, she said. “This is it.”
Conveniently, a huge oak log had fallen there. Upon it we sat.
“All you need to do is put one of the wigglers on the safety pin and drop your line in the water like this,” she said.
She handed me the pole. Then she fixed the other one, carefully attaching the string, safety pin and adding the worm.
As we sat there side by side with our poles in the water, I know I probably asked her a million questions about the leaves, the trees and the little green frog which hopped on my shoe.
She patiently answered every one. We sat there for what seemed like hours enjoying the mountain breeze which flowed over the Gravelly Spur and along the Frogleg Creek.
“”Well, we better be getting back,” she said as she pulled her line out of the water.
Just as her pin touched the top of the cold waters, the biggest fish I ever saw jumped by her line.
“Granny, did you see that?” I said. “We can’t leave, we have not got that fish yet.”
“Yes, we did,” she said.
Close your eyes, “Can you see it?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Then you will carry that fish with you everywhere you go,” she said.
“So we did catch a fish,” I said. “Today, we caught the biggest fish of all.”
“We caught something much better,” she said. “We caught each other.”

Striving through negative anniversaries

Often in life we find ourselves looking at the calendar and it fills us with emotions of an occurrence on that date somewhere in our past.
On some occasions it is a good memory or emotion. My grandmother’s birthday still sticks in my head for some reason although to the best of my memory, we never celebrated it, nor do I recall ever being with her on that day but each day when it rolls around, I think of her despite her passing being long ago.
The end of August for me marks the passing of my father and the end of May that of my mother’s. No matter how many years have flown by, when I hit those days, the memories still come back. Thankfully, my folks taught me the importance of grieving through the experience at the time and moving on when the process is complete.
I remember my mother saying to me just hours before she crossed “I put everything that was and is in your good hands, my time is done, yours continues. Live.”
Holidays are hard, sometimes due to missing loved ones, sometimes due to lingering memories of what once was or what might have been. I know for me I often found the end of relationships at specific holidays which soured those annual festivities for me. Each year I have to work my way through the anew.
I work to bring the spirit of the holiday into my life by finding and helping others, thus taking me outside my own head and not letting the past crush the present.
I wish I could say there is a magic pill to take or an easy course to take that will make everything all better for each of us. We all grieve differently. We all move through transitions in different ways. The best approach I have learned is just do it.
Get up. Get out. Find your new normal, add in your bliss, help some other folks along the way and eventually, you look at the calendar a day or two after one of these heavy-laden anniversaries and realize that the day went by and the day’s once significance, didn’t even cross your mind.