By: Eddie L. Harvey
One summer my family and I drove from California to Louisiana to visit Mom’s family. By the third day everyone was a bit cranky from riding in the van. I felt relieved when Mom announced, “We’re here!”
We left the freeway and turned down an old, dusty pebble road. We crossed some train tracks and saw two white houses surrounded by green grassy fields.
The sky was gray as we all excitedly climbed out of the van and into what felt like a hot,steamy bathroom. Mom explained, “During the summer, some places get very humid, and that’s why you feel wet and sticky.” My dislike of the weather quickly changed as I curiously looked around at my surroundings.
Grandpa was out in the field with his cows and Grandma was taking clothes off the line. A pack of dogs, barking loudly, followed Grandpa as he walked toward us, waving and smiling.
Grandma waved too as she quickly gathered the clothes from the line and took them inside the house. When Grandma returned, we stood around talking, hugging, and laughing. Finally Grandpa said, “Let’s get your suitcases in the house.”
I could not remember the last time I had spent time with Grandma and Grandpa. They lived so far away. But the stories Mom shared with us about how strict Grandma had been with her and her siblings stuck in my mind. I was worried about spending time with Grandma. What if I did something she didn’t like? But with all the new and exciting things to do around their farm, I quickly forgot my fears.
Every day I had new adventures with my cousins. We rode motorbikes, played in the goat pen, fed the chickens, looked for snakes, played baseball, explored the old barn, and watched the cows as they nibbled grass in the field for hours. “This is the best vacation I have ever had,” I told my dad.
One evening Grandma announced, “I’m going fishing in the morning. Anybody want to come?”
“I do,” I eagerly replied.
“Have you ever been fishing?” she asked, frowning.
“No.” I shook my head.
“Well then, we have lots of work to do,” she said.
I followed her outside to a little spot near the chicken coop where she kept her worms beneath some old cardboard boxes. “You always have to check your worms and get your fishing lines ready,” she said. “We won’t have time in the morning. We are getting up early.” Grandma sounded a bit grumpy.
I wondered if I really did want to go fishing with her.
Early the next morning before the sun came up I followed Grandma out the door. She grabbed her tin bucket full of worms and the fishing poles. We were quiet as we shuffled down the pebble road. I liked the sound of the gravel crunching under our boots.
When we arrived at the fishing hole, the sun was just peeking through the trees. Grandma showed me how to bait my hook and how to cast my line. “The fish are good and hungry in the morning,” she said. We waited and waited. Then waited some more. It was so quiet I could almost hear the leaves from the trees falling into the water.
Suddenly Grandma whipped her fishing line back and pulled out the biggest fish I had ever seen. Moments later, she pulled out another fish and another.
“Can I move over there?” I asked. “The fish are not very hungry over here.”
“Hurry up,” Grandma sighed. No sooner had we switched places when I heard Grandma’sline whip out of the water with another fish. I was ready to give up. “You have worked too hard to give up now,” Grandma said as she slowly began to pack her fishing supplies.
“You know, Jesus had some disciples who were fishermen,” Grandma said. “Some days they caught plenty of fish and other days they didn’t. The important thing was they followed Jesus’ instructions no matter what.
I stood there staring at the calm waters and thinking about what Grandma had said, when suddenly something yanked my line.
My eyes grew big as I struggled to pull my line in. “Grandma! I got something,” I shouted.
Grandma told me what to do as I pulled and tugged to reel in my line. My arms and fingers ached. But I wanted to show Grandma that I could fish too. Finally, I pulled a small fish about the size of my hand out of the water. It was so tiny we decided to put it back. Grandma chuckled quietly to herself as I stood there in disbelief at how hard I had worked for such a small fish.
Somehow in that moment, at Grandma’s fishing hole, my fear of her disappeared. I felt as if we had been fishing partners forever. I was happy that Grandma took the time to help me when I felt discouraged.
I imagined Jesus’ disciples had plenty of days when they were discouraged, but when they followed Jesus and His teachings, everything worked out in the end. Just like with me and Grandma.