One of the things we were taught in grade school math, or arithmetic if you are old like me, was how to round up and round down numbers. If it is more than half you round to the next higher number less than half you go the other way.
Every fisherman I have ever known uses that round up process. By Monday morning, the fish he caught Saturday that weighed 5 lbs 9 oz is 6 or 6 ½ lbs or if he caught 17 fish the round up process would take that to 20. Rounding down is never used for weight or numbers of fish; it is only used to tell his wife the rod and reel that was $149.95 cost a little over $100.00 or that he will only be gone a couple hours. Four or five hours later he shows up crying about the 6 ½ pound bass that got away.
I have done the round up thing, but I never needed to round down because Sharyl enjoyed fishing as much as I did and she didn’t care how much it cost if it would catch fish. I didn’t need to round down the time because she was almost always with me. Sorry Jim, Gene, Ron and the list goes on but she was the best fishing partner I ever had and she would even do a little rounding up.
White Bass or “Sand Bass” as they are called regionally became our fish of choice, they don’t get very big and some other kinds taste better. The method of pursuing them fit our style, catching them is pretty easy, finding them is the challenge. One of my fondest memories of Sharyl is how excited she would get when the Sand Bass were really hitting. It was quite common for the two of us to catch 30 or 40 in a couple hours and on a real good day we would approach triple digits. Am I rounding up? It’s your call.
Two or three times a year we would do a fish fry. Those are four-step processes catch, clean, cook, and consume. Sharyl enjoyed step one and she would consume a little bit of fish, I don’t remember her ever saying, “I sure am hungry for fish”. I know she never cleaned a fish and I don’t think she ever cooked one. I don’t enjoy cleaning them, but I kind of like to cook the things, I use one of those redneck macho outdoor cookers. Number of guests varied from as few as 8 or 10 to as many as 50.
Several years ago when Braxton was a little guy I was cleaning some fish. I think Sharyl or his mom needed to get him out of their hair so they suggested he go outside and watch Paw Paw clean the fish. I think he was expecting a little bar of soap, some small washcloths and towels; he was shocked at what he saw. He watched for a little while and found something more interesting to do; let’s face it fish cleaning isn’t a real spectator sport. A couple hours later he almost panicked when his mom told him to come in so she could get him cleaned up for dinner.
I would like to have a fish fry, maybe just to see if it is still fun, but there is a problem, I don’t have any fish.
A few days ago I went fishing, alone. The first time I had fished since August 2009, that day in ’09 is one of those days I will always remember, it is the last time Sharyl was on the water. We were with four very good friends and we caught a “boatload” of Sand Bass. We still hadn’t used nor accepted the word terminal as it applied to Sharyl’s illness. We had plans to do it again next weekend or the next. I don’t remember the last time just the two of us were on the water; it was sometime the previous fall; a time when we still took a lot of things for granted.
I needed to do the first trip alone I don’t know why; I just needed to. I had fished alone a lot of times over the years but this time was different. I think I was trying to accept this as part of the “new normal” I talked about in an earlier post. I hooked a nice fish almost immediately. I think mixed emotions is an over used term; I have used it over the years and thought I knew what it meant. I now fully understand mixed emotions, it took something as simple as the excitement of a fish attacking my lure and the simultaneous realization Sharyl would never experience that again. I took it off the hook put in the live well (I use an old ice chest) and continued fishing. I fished for about an hour; I caught seven, if Sharyl had been there we would have had fifteen. She always caught at least one more than I did. If you round that up it would be twenty.
It is not a pleasure trip this time but I am back at the lake. The new normal is slowly taking shape and I think I am beginning to leave some of today’s problems up in Hughes County (another reference to a previous post).
It has been a little bit of a tough week but I’ll get there. I love you babe and I miss you every day.
Thanks for reading what I write and keep me in your prayers.
Good Night and God Bless.