February 03, 2010
A Toast to a 90-Year-Old Fly Fisherman
By Tim Romano
Last week my father-in-law sent me an email from one of his friends. A speech a grand daughter gave to her grand father on his 90th birthday. It resonated deeply with me.
I won't ruin it by trying to over-explain it. The paragraph below (from him), helped me understand the back story. I hope you like it.
The bond between a North Carolina grandfather and his first grandchild began 30 years ago. On a secluded and secret stream in western North Carolina, an angler learned, mid-cast, that his daughter had given birth. So he put away his gear and drove seven hours across the state to embrace her. A joyous moment, but after five minutes it was time to go. Back to the water. Back to riffles and pools and holes he alone knew. Over the years, the two shared many a laugh about this story, the essence of family lore. Here is how she chose to toast him on his 90th birthday last week. Enjoy.
The Angler walks to the river’s bend, pausing to take in the beauty of the morning and the smell of the crisp mountain air. As he carefully selects a nymph from the rim of his hat, he listens to the stream rushing by him, calling him to wade through her waters and cast his line. His weathered hands tie the fly, as he had done so many times before, fond memories flooding back to the forefront of his consciousness. The rhythm of his cast is all his own, in sync with the beat of his heart and the song of his soul. The fly lands, without a ripple, kissing the sunlit surface of the stream. The line, an extension of his arm, is gently pulled by the flow of the water, becoming invisible to the naked eye and to the rainbows beneath. All the most important virtues of life are embodied in this simple pleasure: the importance of patience, the wisdom of experience, the love of the game, the persistence in failure, the purity of nature, the generosity of the maker above, and the inner peace that forms through connecting to something greater than oneself. The Angler smiles as he reflects on his life, a life filled with family, philanthropy, love, and, of course, fishing. While the hours spent at the river’s edge did not give him fame, nor fortune, they were not spent in vain. He learned life’s purpose, the meaning of happiness, and that a life is more than what meets the eye.