Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
TITLE: Aunt Katie's Sign
By Lisa Graham
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Amid cheering and applause, he approached the podium and began to speak, “People ask what I plan to do with myself when I retire. Rest assured, I will no longer be barking orders . . . I’ll be taking them . . . from my wife.” He smiled as she nodded enthusiastically.
He continued. “Retirement forces a man to take stock of his life, especially as he’s packing up his ‘ego wall’ of trophies and plaques for storage. I’ll be honest with you . . . I’ve achieved many things, but I also grieve over my failures. I gained perspective this week, when my mother sent me a poem written by my Aunt Katie. Before I read it, kindly permit me a moment to reminisce.
“Aunt Katie had a sign tacked to her front door, just inside a screened porch. The sign was nothing more than a piece of cardboard with a crudely drawn picture of a fish and the hand-lettered words, ‘Gone Fishing.’ To me, the sign was ridiculous! She had polio and was wheelchair-bound. It took every ounce of her strength to get out of bed in the morning. There wasn’t a body of water within miles of her place. How could she possibly go fishing?
“I did ask her one time what the sign meant. She said, ‘It means what it says.’ I didn’t give it another thought.
“As far as fishing is concerned, I’ve never cared for the lazy route of sitting on the bank in the sun, waiting for a fish to take the bait. I prefer to do battle with a sailfish. I love the challenge of wrestling for power . . . you might say it’s the same mindset I used to climb the corporate ladder.
“When Aunt Katie passed away, her sign was buried with her. Imagine that! She considered a raggedy old piece of cardboard her most prized possession! I remember shaking my head at the silliness of it.
“However, as my retirement date loomed, I became worried. My sense of worth has always been wrapped up in my career. Yet, despite all my achievements, I felt empty. I’ve never taken the time to develop close friendships or hobbies. All my life, I lived to work and worked to live . . . what now? What did I have to look forward to? I was in deep despair until the day Aunt Katie’s poem arrived in the mail. If you’ll indulge me, I would like to share it with you.” He withdrew a folded piece of paper from his jacket and began to read:
“I’ve never owned a reel, a net or a cane pole,
But, oh, I love to troll, seeking a lost soul!
Although illness often confines me, like a fish in a bowl,
My Master gives me the strength to serve my special role.
The challenges of life may take its toll,
But there is joy in my heart and a light in my soul.
Casting daily with God brings my purpose to its fruition,
For my life is guided according to His sweet admonition.
You’ll never hear me complain about my condition,
Words of praise and thanksgiving will always be my petition.
For, I live only to serve as a fisher of men,
You’ll never find me idle . . . I’ve gone fishing!”
As he carefully re-folded the paper, a wide grin spread across his face. “So, if you think I’ll just be sitting around in my retirement, think again. I’m going fishing!”
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