Jake’s hand shook as he lifted the lid off the box. Gran said Pop had specifically asked that this box be given to Jake after the funeral.
The first few things he pulled out each held special memories of Pop. First there was the wooden plane they had spent one summer making together. Then there was the model train, and the boat. Pop had been great at making things. Next was a pile of boy’s adventure books they had read together. Right at the bottom was a bundle wrapped up in a brown cloth.
As Jake pulled it out, he recognised Pop’s fishing bag. It was exactly as he remembered it. Inside the bag were Pop’s fishing tackle, his telescopic fishing pole, his little bible and the “Gone Fishing” sign he’d always hung up for Gran to find.
Jake felt tears well up as he let his mind drift back over his many fishing trips with Pop. He must have been only four or so the first time Pop took him out, but it had quickly become their summer tradition. At least once a week, every summer holidays, Pop would wake him before the sun was up. They’d grab all their fishing gear and the picnic basket Gran had packed the night before, then Pop would hang the “Gone Fishing” sign on the hall mirror where Gran was sure to find it. The day was always spent at the same place. The ‘big hole’ on Smokey Hollow Creek. They weren’t good fishermen. Pop talked too much, and laughed too much, but even though they almost never caught any fish, those days were among Jake’s best memories of Pop.
Jake wiped a tear from his eye as he picked up Pop’s little bible. As he opened it, an envelope fell out. His name was written on the front in Pop’s bold handwriting. Jake held it carefully for a moment before opening it and beginning to read.
He could hear Pop’s strong, loving voice through every word. It was a short letter, just reminding him of the fun they’d had, and mentioning a few extra special times. By the end Jake could no longer hold in the tears.
“Jake, my boy,” the last paragraph read, “I want you to remember that summer when you were 12. We fished every day for a whole week. Remember on the last day. You asked the Lord into your life that day my boy. I want you to know, I’ve prayed for you every day of your life, but if you’re reading this now, then I’ve already gone on to heaven. Stand strong, my boy, I’m waiting for you to come and sit with me just like we did by Smokey Hollow Creek. You’ll need to pray for yourself every day now. God Bless you, my boy, Love Pop.”
As Jake let the sobs take over he felt Gran’s gentle hand on his shoulder. He turned and hugged her as he had when he’d been a small boy.
“Gran,” he finally managed to ask, “Why did Pop like fishing? I mean, he wasn’t any good at it.”
Gran chuckled. “Jake, dearie, he wasn’t fishing for fish, he was fishing for men. And look at the fine one he caught for the Lord,” she said as she reached up to pat Jake’s shoulder’s.
Jake looked out the window to where his own son, Joshua, played on the rope swing.
“Gran,” he said, “I think I might take Josh fishing.”
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