As a mom I am instilled with a great deal of patience. I am patient when our oldest son loses his patience when he is told that he’s too young for this and too old for that. I listen patiently as our youngest son does his "Woe is me!" routine because "everyone gets to do fun stuff but me!" I am patient when my patience has run out and I’m ready to throttle someone for not picking up after themselves.
Patience also goes along with other things in life. My husband exercises great patience in his dealings. He calls it "holding your nerve". This practice has gained him many and varied successes in life.
I can be patient when waiting for something over which I have no control. Like the mail for example. It's gonna come when it's gonna come. Waiting in line at the store. I've been the checkout girl and the customer so I know how it goes on both sides.
What I do not have patience for is fishing -or so I thought.
The day began as a nice one. The boys and I arrived at camp the night before after visiting my mother down south.
We met Mark at the campground and the next morning proceeded to the fishing spot (I am not at liberty to divulge the whereabouts for obvious reasons). Up until this point I had held a fishing pole only one other time I in my life and that was when I was about seven: I caught a small sunfish but before I could bring it out of the water, something bit off its body and all I got was the head. So with that huge accomplishment under my belt I at least knew how to hold a pole.
Besides I was only really there to offer encouragement and support. I didn't think I was there to fish. I did catch a glimpse of the scenery and the sun and the water came together to form a beautiful shimmery strip of light down the way.
As one of the boys needed help with his pole -excuse me -rod Mark handed me his.
"Here hold this ‘til I get back," he said. Little did we know that not one but two exciting things would happen while I held that rod.
As I held that ‘stick and string' I felt my patience fleeing and I wanted to follow. I was actually looking for a place to put it down and say, "Adios!" when a nibble tugged my line.
At first I dismissed it as my bait bumping the pylon to which the dock was attached (okay that's the only hint you're going to get). I moved the rod and line and the nibble got stronger and began to move -and quickly - around the pylon.
So as my line tangles around the pylon I am backing up and shouting, "What do I do now?" My husband kneeling on the dock helping the boys says to me in his picture of patience voice, "Just work him." So now I'm moving my rod and line up and down and back and forth, all the while backing up to the far corner of the dock opposite from where the pylon is. I am hoping Mark will take pity on me and not yell too much for my wrapping the line around the pylon. Finally, I get to the corner and there is nowhere to go except in the water, and I'm still working the line when I happen to look down at where I am. This long (about six or seven feet), fat (I probably couldn't put my arms around it), and white (it was swimming just under the surface so I got a good look at it) fish swam lazily by. We later learned it was a Beluga whale that frequented these waters. After the initial shock of seeing such a creature ebbed away we watched it with complete awe. It played in the water. It bumped buoys; it rounded its body in the water just mere feet from us, as if to show itself off to us.
It was beautiful. It only lasted for a few minutes but its experience will last a lifetime and when I later tell the story I delight in watching the faces of people light up when they learn that such a creature graced our presence.
If I had stepped off the dock I could have stepped right onto his back, that's how close I was and it was worth my patience to stop what I was doing and watch him. The others on the dock had the same idea because for the next few minutes the fish in the water that day got a break while the humans gazed upon God's creation as he frolicked in the water. It seemed as if he knew he had an audience and for however short a time he had our rapt attention.
After we waved goodbye to the whale we turned our attention back to the pylon. I was content to cut my losses (and the line for I thought it was simply tangled) and start over with a fresh hook and bait when Mark and Eli took matters into their capable hands. They patiently worked the line from around the pylon. This took several minutes. I was still straining out my vision out in the distance hoping to see the whale.
When Mark was at the end of the line he says to me, "Look what you got!" On the end of the line was the most wonderful thing: a twenty-inch striper. Strong and angry, it flipped and flopped as Mark pulled it onto the dock and measured and processed it. Other fisherpersons on the dock that day would share in this experience that would be forever in the Anderson record books as Mama's very first real catch and a humbling yet wonderful lesson in patience as well.
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