Editor’s Desk

Posted 2/15/22

FROM THE A little faith In the wee hours of Thursday, Feb. 10, the worst kind of phone call came that no one ever wants to get. My husband’s grandpa, “Pa,” had had a heart attack and it looked …

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Editor’s Desk



A little faith

In the wee hours of Thursday, Feb. 10, the worst kind of phone call came that no one ever wants to get. My husband’s grandpa, “Pa,” had had a heart attack and it looked like the end was near. My husband’s grandma, “Nan,” and his cousins Christopher and Roger raced through the dark night to get to the hospice facility. The vigil began.

My husband was able to call Pa and say his final goodbyes while Christopher held the phone to his ear. Pa couldn’t respond, but he could still hear. He died about an hour later, gently and quietly, with family surrounding him.

As we gathered around Nan’s old kitchen table Friday night reminiscing and grieving, Christopher and Nan had an amazing tale to tell. It will give you chills, and hopefully a bit of comfort.

First off, you need to know that Pa was an avid trout fisherman. He grew up in Shawano County where you trip over a trout stream every five feet. Sometimes they’re tiny and barely visible from the road, but Pa knew where all the good spots were, whether it was standing on a culvert near the road as icy water poured through into a deep hole, or back through the brush to a secret, hidden pool. The streams there tumble and churn over millions of stones. He passed his love of trout fishing onto my husband and his cousins. If you’ve never seen anyone fish a trout stream, it’s truly a delicate and visual art. The movements are distinct and precise, knowing exactly when to jig, the line flowing through fingers, the casting and reeling. Somehow they all know how to do this in the tightest, brushiest quarters with precision. When we go to Shawano County, I just watch my husband fish because it’s beautiful to me.

As Nan, Roger and Christopher sat in Pa’s room toward the end, Pa, barely able to speak, told Nan just exactly where his ice fishing tipups are so the boys could find them. Many he crafted himself. Soon, his speaking ceased and he stopped responding. His chest rose gently with each breath, but they became shallower each time. Soon, they noticed his arms moving in what seemed an erratic fashion. Was this something that happens when death is about to pounce? But as Christopher watched, the movements Pa’s arms were making took on a familiar rhythm. He was tying a line, casting, letting the fishing line flow through his fingers, his right arm extended. Soon the jigging started. His fingers and arms moved through the familiar dance, without a tremble, through the precise dance of trout fishing. He was trout fishing. Oh, he hit a snag! Dang it, the line broke. He had to retie the lure. Pop the line into the mouth, tie the line, good as new, the dance begins again. This went on for quite some time.

As Christopher told this story around the old kitchen table, tears streamed down our faces. While we hated that we’d lost Pa, there was comfort in knowing he was doing what he loved best as he passed from this world to the next. He was trout fishing.

My husband teaches psychology and told me later that most likely, the movements were due to buried memories in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. That may well be, or maybe it was because he was already in the next life, with his foot lingering in this one, doing the one thing he loved most as he transitioned to his heavenly reward. Sometimes, you just got to have a little faith. I believe Pa was really and truly trout fishing.