Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Christmas Guest

Grandpa's fishing lure.
            It's a week before Christmas and our two boys are decorating the tree when I notice a fishing lure has mysteriously appeared on our coffee table. ""It's made from a spoon of steel," Dave says when I ask, “for catching big stripers. This one my father made.  I found it in the garage in my old tackle box.”
Dave describes how his father, dead for many years now, liked to make his own lures. He'd buy a lure at the store that he liked and then copy it down at the steel shop, where he had been a stainless steelworker. 
            My youngest son, James, was named after him. Our sons had never known him, only knew that he had liked the outdoors and had died suddenly from a heart attack at Trinity Lake on a hunting trip. There had been three children in all─ three children who would grow up missing their father.
            I bring out a photo album and show the kids pictures. A young Grandpa dressed in khakis sitting on a rock wall, a bit of scenery behind him, one of him kneeling by an old camp tent, and one sitting on an old Chevy with his hunting rifle. I liked the photo dated October 1962 with all three young children and Dave's mother, but my favorite is an old black and white close-up of his handsome face peering down at my Dave, his first-born son. 
            The boys wanted to know more about their grandfather so Dave shared a story. “My father liked to get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to go fishing, and he would invite me to go along. He’d set the alarm and tell me to be ready when it was time to go. One morning when the alarm rang I was so tired I fell back asleep. When I finally woke up I found that he had gone fishing without me. That was how my father taught me the importance of being punctual. After that I didn’t miss any more fishing trips. I jumped right out of bed all set to go.”
Dave wipes the shiny surface of the fishing lure with a wet towel until it gleams. "Looks like a Christmas ornament," he says.
"Yes, this is perfect," I say, "to have him back again with us as a guest for Christmas."