Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's Not About the Fish

My husband's grandma turned 88 this week.  Because I am not wonderful with keeping track of such things, I'm thankful that his family is.  They hosted a joint party for her and Brandon's cousin, who just turned 16.  It was a fun crowd, spanning ages 90 to 1 year, if you count the dogs, and we count the dogs!
Checking in with the different crowds, there were teenage boys racing cars on the Play Station with teenage girls looking on in a bored sort of way.  Among the younger set, there was much feasting on fruit, pizza and cake, as well as a random treasure hunt.  The money finders each won a five dollar bill and a plastic golden cup.  In the grown up room, I heard talk of camera, some laughs about fish escaping from their tanks, as well as some giggles about the rapture, apparently imminent the following day.

Smiling, I sat down next to the birthday girl.  There's a lean to the way she sits, and I guess I never really thought much about why.  I knew she had several strokes as well as a bad break in her leg, so that she is confined to her wheelchair.  She is an independent and inspiring woman, having been one of the first occupational therapists in the field.  She then raised her kids on her own for a portion of their upbringing, traveled all over, and was always sewing.  When I met her, I was dating my husband, and she told me how her uncle was a tailor, and she always begged him to teach her to sew.  Until he did, she sat at his side, learning.  In her retirement, she sewed for people.  It was her way of ministering to the needs of others, and she loved it.  Just before she had her strokes, she had remarried the love of her life and father of her kids after being divorced for something like 25 years.  It was a sweet time, something like a fairy tale.  Soon, grandma's health began to fail, and there were several times the family was called in, because we were afraid we'd lose her.  Every time, she has rallied.  Maybe it's the 25 bottles of vitamins she took religiously! Grandma Vi is a fighter, and a lover, and a woman who knows how to live with true joy.

It's hard to see grandma sagging in her chair.  It's a sad way to sit, a constant reminder of what is lost as one ages.  I asked grandma why she had a fuzzy red sock over her hand, and she said that it gets so cold, like a block of ice because of the stroke.  I followed the line of her arm, past the brace and up to her face, and saw the sag in her crooked smile. Then I followed it down to her foot,  noticing the brace there, and asked if her foot got cold too, and she said it did.  But she didn't do what I expected next.  I thought she might be happy to have someone to tell her woes to, but that's not what she did.  She told a little story.  She has always told stories and jokes for the 13 years I've known her, and I'm sure much longer.   I'm sure scores of people have heard her tell this one, but I think she knew it's the one I needed to hear.

"There was a man.  He was a preacher, a judge, a lawyer, and he loved to fish.  He took his granddaughter out to the fishing hole one day with him, got his pole out, and went to fishing. They were there for a long time, never catching a thing, and then they got back in the car.  Climbing into the seat, his granddaughter noticed he had left all of his bait in the car.  'Grandpa,' she said, 'you left all of your bait.  No wonder you didn't catch any fish.'  She was very confused.  He looked at her and smiled, 'It's not about the fish.  It's about the fishing.'

Grandma raised her head at me, without saying anything and smiled, looking at me with her clear blue eyes, checking to be sure I had understood.  I tried to change the subject, telling a story about how my daughter had said she went to Disneyland when she was "still in God's eye."  The subject just came back to the fishin.'  "That preacher had a busy life," said grandma, "and he cherished the time to sit out in nature and enjoy life.  So it wasn't about the fish."

Sometimes it's hard to keep myself from seeing much else except the goals that need to be met each day,  Chores must be done, math learned, history recounted, dinner made, then to bed and to start again.  It is good to know that it's equally important to "just fish."  I overheard grandpa asking grandma how she liked the party.  She told him how much she loved seeing everyone together, and what a joy it was to her, and that she was tired and ready to go home.

The grass, whizzing by as we jog

Today, instead of doing chores when I got home from a busy day with the family, I did something different.  I decided to be silly and jog while taking photographs, like I had seen in the movie, "Yes Man."   Everyone was dragging their feet, but by the time we were done, every person had enjoyed a jog on our road, including the dog. We went in circles, picked flowers, ran through grass and around a horse barn.  We raced each other home, then went about our work.  I am so thankful that God allows me to learn just exactly what I need to each day.

My foot, and my daughter's.  Sparkly shoes were required running attire for her.


  1. Excellent...Got tears running girl!!! XOXO

  2. I love your writing. Poignant story. Almost all the time I think about the tasks I need to accomplish. Rarely do I imagine life to be "about the fishing".

  3. What a wonderful woman Grandma Vi is!

  4. Grandma is a great example of living a Godly life for sure.

  5. Sometimes I think you appreciate my family and "see" them better than I do. It's not with jealousy that I see this, but thankfulness. Because it enables me to see them with "new eyes" and thus increases my love for them! Thank you!!!


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