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.

19 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.

    • I used to keep a dream journal, years ago when I used to remember nearly every dream in vivid detail. If you know how to analyze the symbolism, it can be very therapeutic.

      • I don’t recall dreams much anymore. However just before this recent trip I had a stressful dream which involved trying to work out how to pack a suitcase. The main problem seemed to be how I was going to fit a bookcase with books into a suitcase which was already stuffed to overflowing with a pillow and duvet. 😀

  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. 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.

  6. 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…

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