Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Fly Fishin - 5

            I don’t really know quite where to begin.  My name is Jenica.  I was the girl this great man saved.  It turns out he was a millionaire, and he left all of his money, his land, his cabin, this little book…to me.  I was pretty confused when I first heard about it.  He was such a friendly old man.  I went to see him a few times a month ever since the accident.  He would always treat me so well, and he taught me how to fly fish.  I never would’ve guessed he’d never caught anything.  I caught something the first time I went out with him on that river.  He seemed so happy for me.  I guess he didn’t have the heart to tell me.
            Yeah I saw in the papers that awful article about him never having caught anything, but I don’t think the man writing it had ever met him.  My dad said it was just people’s way of using libel and slander.  But I guess he really hadn’t ever caught anything.  Now that I think back, he always seemed to flick his line back a little too quickly.  It almost makes me think that he didn’t want to catch anything.  He was just happy to be there and have the chance to fly fish.
            And it makes me sad to see the way people treated him.  All because he wanted to just keep doing the thing that he loved.
            My whole family went to his funeral, but we were almost alone in doing so.  There was one other elderly gentleman, dressed from head to toe in a great black suit, and who even wore a bowler hat.  Yeah, he came too.  His face was as wrinkled as a spider web.  He was one of the former partners of my old friend.  It turns out our friend had at one time been one of the most sought out investors in the country.  But more than that, he said he was a great friend, and had kept in touch right up to his death.  He said it was a shame that he had lived so humbly, that so few knew who he was.  But he was happy that the caretaker had allowed the title of fisherman to be printed on his program.  He said that in all those years he’d never heard of him being as happy as he was since he came to Montana.  After the ceremony the man turned and squeezed my shoulder and told me that his friend almost never put his money into a bad investment, which I think meant he thought I was a good investment, and he left.
            I guess now I should finish his story, because I was the one who found him.  I came to the cabin one chilly fall morning.  I had my pole with me, he had just bought his new pole a few days before, and I was pretty excited to see him use it.  He always seemed so agile with that old pole of his.  I knocked on the front door, but instead of hearing him call out to me to come in like I normally heard.  I heard nothing.  It was the first time I hadn’t heard his expectant, kindly voice.  I waited for a moment before looking inside the cabin, but no one was inside.  So I went out back to the river bend, and there I saw him, laying there in his suspenders his hand still grasping his pole in one hand, and in the other grasping a large dead brookie.
            The doctors said he died of a heart attack.  He was probably overcome with emotion at having caught a fish.  I’ve heard of people saying that someone they knew died of a broken heart, but I don’t believe he did.  He was too strong of a man.  He had persisted in following his heart through years of derision and loneliness.  I think his heart was too big.  He died doing what he loved, and I’m guessing it exploded from joy.  He truly was a fisherman.
            Now that his story’s ended, I feel I should include a small note I found at the end of this book.  I think this was what he wanted to be the shining conclusion of his book.  And I can’t agree more, as he was the man who taught me to love fly fishing.

            It has often been said that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day and if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.  But fly fishin’ does much more than just feed a man.  It’s as if he releases his soul into that vast wilderness with each consecutive cast.  Indeed, if you teach a man to fly fish you free his soul.  And now I return home, free.

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