A Fishing Story






 Luell Lucas Smith

He was an old man who had suffered a stroke; she was a young woman in the prime of her life.  He was her father; she was his daughter.  He had taught her to fish when she was very young, probably 5 or 6; to bait her own hook with a wiggler, and to be patient for the nibble!  But there was one thing he would always do for her, and that was to remove the fish from the hook because it always hurt her heart injure the fish; and furthermore, she was afraid a fin might stick her.  Never once did he ever make her feel bad for not being a complete fisherman!  They had many years of fishing together; and when she was older, he taught her to cast with a rod and reel, and she moved from Bream to Bass.  Those were some of the best times in her life – the time she spent fishing with her Daddy.

After his stroke, they fished together one last time.  They went to an old favorite fishing camp of a friend’s, but things were different this time.  Since the stroke had played havoc with his right side, there were things he could not do.  It was now impossible for him to fish from a boat; they had to fish from the dock.  And she had to bait his hook, remove his fish … all the things that he had done for her in the beginning; but this was close to the end of his life, and roles were reversed.  That day she experienced every possible human emotion.  Things seemed ironically funny, and she and her father laughed until their stomachs hurt.  Once she left him to go into the camp for a few minutes and when she came back out, he held up a finger with a hook firmly entrenched.  Since he had always been a prankster, she thought he was joking and felt anger that he would tease her in that manner; he was not.  He had tried to bait the hook in her absence, and hooked himself instead.  She winced, as she removed the hook from her father’s flesh.  One last time, she baited his hook, threw the line back out for him, and handed him the old cane pole.  She watched him as he hooked another little Bream and pulled it up for him.  As she went to remove the hook from the fish, she realized that the hook was not going to come out easily.  Try as she might to get the hook out without injuring the fish, she finally had to yank the hook from deep in its throat, and as the hook came out with blood and fish flesh, she erupted in tears; her heart hurt for the damage she had done to the fish … her heart hurt more for knowing that this would be her last fishing trip with her father. 

But there is no end to the special memories one gathers along the way, and she had been greatly blessed by a father who spent wonderful hours fishing with her and in so doing, taught her many things … especially the love of a father for a daughter!

~ Beverly Smith (Zacharias) Herrington

          from "Gifts" December 1999


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