“Ho ho hum” Dad paused as his eyes lit up. I knew what was coming.
Sami started, “Well it sounds li-”
“It’s two hos and a hum.”
“Aw Grandpa, that’s silly.”
“Never mind that, do you want to go to the lake and see what’s bitin’?”
“Yippee,” Sami hurried to get her shoes.
"Let’s go, Bill. Sugar Doll, go to the shed and get a small coffee can for the worms. I’ll meet you at the truck. Ladies, we will see you later.”
Sami wrinkled her face. I wasn’t sure if her disgust was the thought of Bill in the front seat between her and her grandpa or the icky worms. Bill was the ugliest dog in the world and Dad’s shadow. He was old, smelled bad and scratched constantly but there was no leaving him home. He was part of the family.
Old Blue was always ready for fishing, in it Dad kept a collection of bamboo poles ready for whenever he had grandkids to entertain.
Mom and I looked at each other, we would have enjoyed the outing, but we had work to do before brother Matt and his brood showed up for lunch. I pulled and cleaned some of Dad’s radishes, fought through the jungle of tomato plants and harvested the ripest, most beautiful fruits in the state.
“Will a dozen be enough for devilled eggs?”
“You know your brother will eat half of them so we better do two.”
We laughed, we knew about this family and food.
“Look Mom, I caught all of them, aren’t they pretty?” Her previous thoughts were gone. All that mattered was the fish, her granddad and Bill. “Grandpa showed me where to dig the worms, there were so many that we filled the can right away. He showed me how to put the worm on the hook; he fixed my bobber just right so when the fish tried to take my worm I’d get him instead. One tried jumping back into the lake, but Bill shoed him back to Grandpa. Bill sat on my lap on the way home.”
“That’s great, honey” I delighted in her joy and her success. I spend my time at the lake with a book, not a pole, looks like the angler gene skipped a generation.
Surprise replaced the joy when Sami rubbed the top of Bill’s head. “Right boy? Are you okay?"
Eight shiny blue gills glistened from the workbench, “Hand me that fillet knife, my sparklin’ diamond. If I get ‘em cleaned up real fast maybe your grandma will fry ‘em up for lunch. Won’t they taste great with buttermilk?”
“Eew, Grandpa, that’s gross.”
Convinced buttermilk was the nectar of life; Dad didn’t understand when anyone disagreed. “With just a bit of salt, aahhh, that’s the best, but I can’t let your grandma catch me with the salt shaker, she’ll tan my hide.
He washed up and started lunch preparations. Matt and his family arrived just in time for the gustatory delight. No one missed these lunches and no one left hungry, there was something for everyone. Cutting into the rosy flesh of one of his prized tomatoes, Dad said, “Sami, run out back and get some lettuce. Will someone grab some black cherry sodas out of the fridge on the porch? Who wants liver sausage?”
The frig was emptied of most of its contents, mustard, salad dressings, pickles, onion dip, four kinds of cheese, a variety of lunch meat for those not fond of Dad’s beloved liver sausage, the radishes, every leftover container had a second chance. Grandma looked at the bounty and said, “I always say that this would be the perfect time to clean the fridge.”
The pantry yielded three different bags of chips, peanut butter, and crackers.
Everyone found a seat, even Bill huffed and settled in under Dad’s chair. The feeding frenzy began.
“Uncle Matt, you have to try the fish. I caught ‘em. Grandpa and Bill helped”
“Sure, pass ‘em down. Yummeeee, did you cook ‘em?”
“Noooowa, Uncle Matt, that’s silly.”
Chow time over, kids dispersed to do what kids do, Mom and I cleaned up.
“Oh no.” Dad and Matt exclaimed at the same time.
“Bill’s dead. I thought he’d been acting strange since we left the house this morning.”
The kids overheard and gathered around Dad, Sami was the first, “Aw, Grandpa, that’s sad.”
Dad, Sami and Bill made a second trip to the lake that day and the rest of us joined them.
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