The bridge was always interesting though. There were always small groups of men, usually two or three of various ages, that would stop to fish. Some had clearly fished before, as evidenced by their tackle boxes, and others looked fairly new. Sometimes we see a father and his sons or maybe a grandpa and his grandchildren or sometimes just small young boys around ten or so, making their way down to the underpass to fish. For the most part, there was always a lot more fishing than catching going on.
Ever since Dear Son was small, I’d take him for walks. We were fortunate enough to always have a walking trail nearby, that somehow always ran along a river or body of water. Dear Son loved these walks, squealing the minute I’d open the door, and then settling down once the fresh air hit his face. As much as he loved the walks, he never paid much attention to his surroundings or to the people on the trail. Moving to this area, proved no different. We’ve made good use of this trail and it wasn’t until recently that Dear Son began to notice some of the things on our walks. For many years, I’d point out the different birds, ducks, geese or other animals that would surround the trail and he’d never notice. He always paid more attention to what he heard than to what he saw. That was until he saw them fishing.
It was only a month after my back surgery when we did our first walk around the trail. As we crossed the bridge, we heard them talking and I knew they had been fishing. The man, who appeared to in his fifties, was fishing with his two young sons. They had been casting when we had started to cross the bridge when all of a sudden he caught a fish. The young boys were delighted with their Dad’s catch and it was quite a catch at that. Normally, the biggest fish I’d see were six inches or less and this was clearly a foot and a half or so long. We stopped at the bridge and I talked to Dear Son about what was happening. I turned his wheelchair towards the men so he could get a good view. It’s really hard to get him to focus on things so far away and although they were only twenty feet down or so, it’s a lot for him to grasp. The man heard us talking, saw Dear Son and held the fish up for him to see. I couldn’t particularly tell if Dear Son really got it or not and soon we were on our way. We finished the trail and turned around to come back when we crossed the bridge again. The men were gone however Dear Son threw his leg out of the wheelchair indicating he wanted to stop and watch them fish. I told them the “men” had gone home and there was nothing to watch. We finished our walk and went home.
So this weekend we walked again and got to the bridge. As we approached the bridge, I talked to Dear Son about what I saw ahead. I told them there were three “men” fishing. We call all male persons “men” now that he is a teenager and he seems to take special pride in knowing that he’s a man. As we got closer, I noticed they were teenagers, about his age. I told Dear Son that and he got rather excited. As we approached the bridge, he started yelling out to get their attention. I stopped on the bridge to talk to them and see if they caught anything. I told them the story of the man who had caught the big fish just weeks before. I doubt they cared much and the only reason I stopped was because Dear Son wanted to stop there. He wanted to go fish with the “men.” Teenagers his age though don’t have much interest in boys like him and it’s sad sometimes when just a little conversation would go a long way.
I thought about the bridge and how much it would mean for Dear Son to go fishing with them, to do a little male bonding. The path to the fishing hole was steep and loaded with giant boulders. I could understand how the boys would like it. It was as rugged as you could get, at least in suburbia. As much as I could see, there’d be no way to get a wheelchair down there, no matter how much you’d like to.
I thought about the boys fishing some more. I thought about the fathers teaching their sons to fish and the boys remembering the good times fishing and catching the “big” one. I thought about how the young boys would go home and tell their mother about the big fish that Dad caught. And then I thought about Dear Son. He’d never learn to fish and even if he went fishing, he couldn’t hold the rod and couldn’t catch a fish. Sometimes, though, it’s not about the fishing or even the catching that’s important. It’s about being present in the moment. And on that day, he was in the moment, and loving every minute.