Gramps died last November. In his final weeks, with a terminal cancer diagnosis running him down, I heard him respond to every person who visited or called on the phone that tried to express their grief and concern for him with a single phrase.
“I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”
I could hear his words echo in my head on Saturday morning as we gathered outside the same church he was married in to bury his remains in the family plot. Our family dug the hole ourselves, as was his wishes, we sang the doxology and afterwards we listened to Granny’s stories about their wedding and Christmas pageants in the church they both grew up in. As we left the kids rang the church bells. I watched my nephew leave the ground holding on to the rope, kicking his legs all about, trying to ring that big bell, laughing through the tears as I remembered all the times Gramps had gotten my brother in just the same predicament.
Then we went home to the farm he lived on his entire life for a picnic lunch, a rousing game of baseball with the kids, (the kind that would have found him on the pitcher’s mound for sure) and an afternoon of fishing off the pier. Because he was a farmer who knew when to work and when to play too.
I can’t think of a more fitting way for the family to say one last goodbye to a remarkable man who lived a life that allowed him to look everyone in the eye at the end of it and say, with a boy scout’s honor…
Birthday boy was the pitcher.
“I have no regrets and I’m not afraid.”
It was my brothers idea and it wasn’t even a bad one. (As his sister I’m required to say stuff like that.)
As kids we had taken many summer trips island camping in the flowages of northern Wisconsin and now that our own kids were all out of the major diaper/nap/crying stages he suggested we do it again.
The weather was rather…
…uncooperative……but it didn’t matter.
There was still fishing…
… and kayaking..
… and games…
… and sand to play in…
…and boats to learn to drive…
…and general silliness with cousins…
… and one very happy, very tired, rather stinky dog.
As we packed up on Sunday that brother of mine had another idea.
He said we should do it again next year.
I agreed wholeheartedly.
Because sometimes that brother of mine has really good ideas.
For accuracy’s sake I feel compelled to note that while we started with seven people more family joined us throughout the trip until we numbered 12. I however took more pictures of kids, bumblebees and my dog than anything else and they are all highly underrepresented in photos. Sorry family!
A Friday ritual.
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
A piece I wrote is in a magazine!!!
(I’m very excited, please feel free to jump up and down and throw confetti in my honor.)
You see, even though I write all the time and other people (yup, I’m talking about you) even read it, I’ve never had what I’ve written show up in the mailbox in a format I can hold in my hand.
Celebration has been in order!
If you are a Wisconsin resident lucky enough to receive Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine you probably have already had the magazine show up in your own mailbox.
If not, here is the link to the article I wrote about fishing with kids. It’s not quite as exciting as holding it in your hand but it’s a close second: http://dnr.wi.gov/wnrmag/2016/06/Kid.PDF
And then, because I like to practice what I preach…
…or maybe because I just like fishing with the kids…
…or maybe because I just like fishing…
…and also because it was Grandpa’s birthday…
…we went kid fishing.
The fish were biting…
…there was chaos…
…and my family kept up a constant stream of teasing references to my article to make sure I didn’t get a big head.
Basically……it was perfect.
My mom and I took a trip to Colorado and despite the look of the previous post we did see more than fish.
US Pro Tour
old mining relic
elephant head flower
mule deer in velvet
But it’s possible we only looked up when the fish weren’t biting!
cut throat trout
hungry fish made this even prettier in person