Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fishing with Pappa, and other Weekend Adventures

A lot of pretty great things happened this weekend:

The most awesome of all awesome kids graduated from high school. Even though I'm pretty sure that it was just a couple of weeks ago that she was the tiny little flower girl at our wedding, twirling around with sparklers while that head full of curly hair flew around her, somehow we all found ourselves on Friday night in the stands of the school's football stadium--

--watching, disbelieving (but very, very proud), as this happened:

Just look at this kid, all grown up in the space of one breath:

These kids are growing up mighty quickly, as well, I must say:

Sitting in the stands for three FREAKING HOURS for this graduation, the kids and I did some discussing of what their high school graduations might look like. We're thinking backyard party, perhaps we'll grill, some of the people who've loved them and guided them through their school years can give speeches, and they can give a speech, too. Although really, as long as their Aunt Pam also makes them Little Debbie Swiss Rolls decorated like diplomas, I don't think the kids care what else goes on.

I *think* we're definitely getting the house! We still had to ask for the second extension, but this bank gave the realtor to pass to the seller some sort of form saying that they're definitely providing our mortgage, so there's no reason why they wouldn't extend. Sometime prior to June 20, I think we'll have our new home!

Pappa taught his great-granddaughters how to fish. It's funny how I've always thought that my Pappa, who helped raise me, was the oldest guy in the world, even though when I was born he was only 57, which doesn't seem old to me now (at least *I* don't plan to be super old in 19 years, but I also don't plan to be raising any grandbabies, either). But no matter how you look at that, today, at 94 (and we'll be driving back to Arkansas to celebrate his 95th birthday in October), Pappa's a pretty old guy, and he hasn't often been up to gallivanting about with the couple of wild little hellions that I always bring with me when I travel, so it's always been a disappointment to me that my kiddos weren't having the same relationship with him that I had, weren't seeing the all-powerful guy who could do anything, could fix anything, could solve anything the way that it seemed he could when I was their age.

But Pappa's actually been seeming to feel really well lately, and my little hellions are old enough now to not absolutely drive an old guy bonkers, and this time when we came down to visit, he had crafted the plan to surprise his great-granddaughters with their very first real fishing trip (stocked pond at the State Fair excluded).

It was absolutely perfect:

Pappa taught each kiddo how to bait her own hook with the worms that he'd brought, how to adjust the bobber, how to cast, and how to wait patiently. The kids took to fishing as if they'd been born to it--as, indeed, they have been, at least on their mother's side. I was Pappa's fishing buddy before them.

But, of course, even with all the newness of hook baiting, all the fun of practicing casting, all the excitement of waiting for the bobber to dip, all the peace of being out next to the water on a lovely morning in good company, the kids' first real fishing trip would not have been quite perfect unless they caught a fish.

Thank goodness:

Pappa held each fish while I unhooked it, and then he handed it back to the kid and instructed her to throw it back in (we neglected the part where you kiss it and tell it to grow bigger. Next time!). Will tossed her fish back in pretty lightly, but when it was Syd's turn, she heard Pappa say, "Throw it back in!", channeled not her complete lack of fishing knowledge but instead Matt's extensive softball coaching, and before we could stop her, she wound back, stepped forward on her non-dominant foot, and THREW that fish across the lake with her very best softball throw! Matt swears that it was her best throw ever. I swear the poor thing bounced before it finally landed, but it didn't come back up, at least.

Kids don't have the ability to stay out fishing all dang day, but neither do seniors, fortunately, so Pappa got tired enough for us to head back at about the perfect time--after each kid had caught a fish, but before they got weary of the fishing. We spent the rest of that day out and about while he rested, met back up only for a bit at the big graduation party that night, and were headed back to Indiana less than 24 hours later, but the memories that we made certainly made it feel to me like one of our biggest, best trips, even if it wasn't the longest. 

I'm very happy for the children, of course, that they got to have this experience with their great-grandfather, to get to know him and see for themselves the kind of smart, generous, and engaging man that he is, that they got to have their first real fishing trip, so long anticipated, with him, and I hope that they've made memories for themselves about this day.

Honestly, though, I'm most happy for myself. Whether or not the kids end up remembering this adventure with their great-grandfather after they're grown, I'll remember it, and feel happy thinking about it. I think that one of my favorite memories now is always going to be this time when two generations, so far apart from each other but both so close to me, spent the morning fishing with each other.


Tina said...

I love this post, Julie. My grandfather died when I was a teenager and I was pretty sad for a while after Emma was born knowing she would never get to meet him. Now we live so far from all of our relatives that we try to encourage connections like this when we do visit. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful memory!

julie said...

It's definitely a challenge when there are older and unwell members of our extended families that I'd like the kids to connect with--those relatives don't always feel up to making a special effort, and my kids, at least, just don't seem to connect well without it. If an adult doesn't specifically engage them, then for my kids, that adult is pretty much background scenery.

It's easy to tell, especially, with the parents of other children--with some parents, who I've noticed making an effort to speak to my kids and be interested in them, my kid will run up to them and have entire conversations. The parents of other kids get the politeness and the "Thank you for inviting me over," etc., but that's about it. Will, especially, I'm ashamed to say, is fond of making the absolute minimum effort that politeness requires--unless she knows and likes you!

Tina said...

Emma has just recently (like this month) started engaging in conversation when an adult talks to her. Nothing major, but she will reply to them. Unless you happen to be a women standing behind us at the DMV wearing a horse shirt and reading a horse magazine. Then when the conversation starts, she would be all in, even reading from a suggested spot in the magazine.

Other than that, she has no real interest in talking to people she doesn't know (family included). But then again, if the other person isn't making an effort to engage me, chances are I wouldn't offer more than what politeness requires either. I'm just not a fan of idle chit chat.

At least she is being polite!

julie said...

This afternoon I again had to prompt an unwilling Will to say hello to her friend's mother with whom I was speaking when Will came up to ask me a question. But after she realized who the woman was mother to, she was perfectly willing to converse with her. The mom and I have subsequently decided that to children, all moms look alike.