Remember the movie Big Fish? Maybe you loved it or you hated it or you didn’t even see it at all. It’s a movie about a dying man. His son sits next to him on his death bed, trying to piece together the seemingly fabricated stories that his father shared with him over the years. The story is like a fantasy and also very realistic, as the son grasps at anything he can that will help him believe his dying father’s stories. It makes my heart feel like it’s going to burst. The ending is so bittersweet.
Today is the 16th anniversary of my dad’s death. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, as I do around this time every year. He died when I was just shy of turning 18. He has been gone almost as long as the time he and I spent on this earth together as father and daughter. Sometimes, I catch myself pondering that thought. How can it be that all of this time has passed so quickly?
My mom and I were on the phone the other day. I had called her to vent because I was having a reality check about how I’m now a mom of a kindergartener and wow, I’m totally freaking out. Sometimes, it just hits you like that. Before we hung up, she shared a touching story with me. It’s a story about a big fish that my dad caught, that suddenly found it’s way back into our lives.
My dad was the outdoorsy-type. From what I remember about him, he was totally in his element when he was in the woods or sitting next to a stream with a tackle box and a fishing pole. Being in nature was where he was content. Only one of my seven older brothers really took to the avid love of fishing like he did. That brother kind of carries on our dad’s fishing legacy for the family. He’s a lot like our dad in that way. He’s content in the woods and next to that fishing stream.
Back to the story. My mom told me that my brother stopped by to see her the other day and had this big fish with him. He went on to tell her that the local sporting goods store has had this fish hanging on their wall for some time. It was on this visit that my brother was informed this particular fish was caught by our dad. After a fishing trip some 17-20 years ago, he had brought the fish to the store to show them. They were curious as to what he planned to do with it. His plan was to take it home and fry it up. Turns out, they asked him if they could keep it for the store and the big man with the heart of gold said yes.
Apparently, this big fish would have been the state record Perch, but my dad never registered it. The store owner gave the big, mounted fish to my brother, and in my opinion, he’s the one person in the family who rightfully deserves to display it in his home.
I couldn’t hold back the tears after my mom shared this story with me. From what I know, none of us knew that big fish hanging in the local sport’s store for almost two decades belonged to my dad.
Here is the proof that this story about the big fish my dad caught is very real and very sentimental :
Another year has passed. Another story has been told and will not be forgotten, just like him.
The grave stone directly in front of my dad’s, which overlooks the beautiful Pennsylvania hills. So ridiculously fitting.