Fishing with Gramps


I walked with Grandpa across the sleeping meadow towards the river. Night had not yet separated into sky, earth, forest, and beings. The tramping of our feet through the dew-soaked grass stirred up a doe. Her white tail flickered and then disappeared into the darkness. I held my fishing pole with both hands as I followed the glow from Grandpa’s cigarette. It bobbed through the air like a plump, drowsy firefly. It was always best to fish before dawn, when the fish were least expecting it. That’s what Grandpa always told me.

Grandpa paused, took a drag off his cigarette, and looked up at the indigo sky. “Those twinkling pinpricks in the heavens are nothing more than gateways, you know,” he said. “Someday I’ll be on the other side winking back at you. Letting you know I got my eye on you.” He rested his hand on my head for a long moment and sighed. “Don’t ever think you’re alone, Daisy.”

I wore a white dress to his funeral. A lone beacon amid a wailing field of black. Adolescence had sprung on me, leaving me sullen and bewildered in the face of such grief. I had been by Grandpa’s side when he died, along with an entourage of tearful relatives. I was the only one who had noticed when he tried to speak from the depths of his coma, so intent were the others on their own sorrow. His lips trembled. His face was taut with anguish. He didn’t want to leave when so many depended on him. I laid my hand on his and squeezed. He closed his eyes and drifted away.

Somehow he got trapped in between realms, anchored by despair at the things from which he could not spare the living. Walking alone across the meadow, I think back on my turbulent life. No descendents will ever follow my beaten down path. I stare up at the vacant night sky; trace apologies in the air with my cigarette. I have always been responsible for myself, Grandpa. Let me lead you to that elusive portal, over the threshold, into the silent immensity.

*     *     *

This piece is what I call a “dreamemoir”. It was written after my grandfather had visited me in a dream. Some of the piece is true – I wore white to the funeral, and he tried to speak before he left. Other things are just invention – I don’t smoke, for example, and, although I know he’s still watching over his large family, he’d never use such words.

46 thoughts on “Fishing with Gramps

  1. Touching, beautiful imagery, transitioning is done very well with use of a tender youthful memory and a sorrowful adolescent one at his funeral; I can feel your closeness to him in both scenes. Particularly like the foreshadowing “No descendants will follow my beaten down path,” and how you take ownership with “I have always been responsible for myself…” Are you writing a complete memoir or only dream segments?

  2. Love invents the dialogue we yearn to hear. And the truth? It’s pliable and no less true for being so. I’m glad you don’t smoke. 😌

  3. Lovely read. I’m very nostalgic for the childhood I spent in the company of my grandfather in Bengal. He’s the one that influenced me into studying Literature and conceiving a life of writing. The dreams in which he visits me are a strange mix of our past together and new interactions that I possibly long for without knowing. That’s why I love how you’ve woven fact and fiction to make a wonderful story.

    • Thank you for your kind thoughts and for sharing your memory of your grandfather. Sounds like he had (and still has) a positive influence on your life. It’s kind of cliche to say that some people never leave us, but it’s true just the same.

  4. Julie!,

    Such a deep and beautiful “dreamemoir”.
    “Those twinkling pinpricks in the heavens are nothing more than gateways, you know”: This sentence gave me shivers!. Absolutely poignant!.
    Thanks for sharing. Best wishes, Aquileana 😀

  5. I agree – there is a strong connection with those who have passed. Their lives give meaning our present realities. They enter our dreams…

    A profoundly gentle reflection.

  6. Hi Julie, enjoyed your post like viewing a poignantly visual video clip . The concept of departed souls transforming into twinkling stars in the firmament , gazing lovingly at their dear ones on planet earth , is one that is nurtured and cherished by generations across geographies , as glowingly evinced yet again in your memoir , where fact and fiction merge seamlessly…best wishes….raj

  7. such touching words. me too I have beautiful memories of me and my GranPa, we were often together when I was a child… sometimes is pleasant to escape into nostalgia. It’s all part of our past, of our own story.

  8. This is my second time to read this post. I found it extremely moving especially since October is the anniversary of my father’s passing. I am convinced that we limit and restrict our universe simply because we forgot to dream, to look for alternatives, to underestimate the possible. Thank you for another life-affirming post. Hugs coming your way…

  9. Hi Julie,
    so beautiful and very poetic
    …”Somehow he got trapped in between realms, anchored by despair at the things from which he could not spare the living.”

    I cannot asses to my blog so I am posting like this 😦

      • Yes it did and I do not know if I should start a new one or what, and I cannot prove that my blog is my blog with wordpress, I did not save id so it is crazy.

        • Did you contact the WordPress staff or post in the forum? There has to be some way you can prove that it’s yours. I change my password all the time and save my blog often just in case something like this ever happens. I’d be devastated. It would be horrible if all of your lovely blog was lost to a spammer.

    • Thank you. I don’t know what to think of such visits, why or how they happen or what a possible explanation is. I think that, no matter what, they’re a gift.

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