Click here to listen to the audio.
One Friday night after supper when I was seventeen, I announced, "Mother, I'm going fishing in the morning out at White Rock Lake."
"Oh, let me come along, please; I won't be any trouble and would love to spend some time with you." she pleaded. "You can show me how to catch the 'big ones.'"
She made sense. Since my part-time job had begun at the local variety store, we really hadn't had much of a chance to catch up with each other.
So I thought it would be a special time for each of us.
Saturday dawned on a beautiful spring day and we got out to the scenic Dallas lake shortly after sunrise. We sat on the pier and I showed Mother how to bait her hook and in a short time she was catching small pan-sized brim. She literally went hysterical with laughter each time she caught one and was having the time of her life. I thought of all the times my friends Maury and Bobbie and I had gone fishing at the park, why I had never asked her to come along and join us.
During the course of the morning we had noticed a little woman who was kind of around the bend from us fishing from the bank. Once she yelled out as she landed a fish and we assumed it must have been a big one. It was getting later in the day and the sun was getting pretty hot so Mother and I decided to pack it up and head home.
But, first she suggested we go over to see the woman since she was clearly alone and sitting under a large umbrella. I said, "Yeah let's go see what she was so excited about."
We walked over and Mother introduced herself and we started talking to her. Believe it or not, that dear lady had been there since dawn and had spent the better part of the whole day fishing. She said she had caught two real "nice" Bass that she planned to cook for supper that night. Then she pointed to a metal pail sitting on the ground under a tree. Mother squealed, "Oh can I see them?"
The lady was very proud and said, "Sure, take a look."
Mother picked up the pail and looked into the murky water. But, because of the shade from the tree, she really couldn't see the fish, so she carried the pail over closer to the bank to get a better look. Then, since the sunlight was still glinting off the water in the pail, she tilted it a bit to an angle that the glare wasn't as bad. That was not the best judgment. Whoomp! splash! One of the "nice" Bass took advantage of this situation and made a bid for its freedom as it flopped out and slid back into the lake.
Mother cupped her hand over her mouth afraid to say anything and looked at me with a "what do I do now" puzzle on her face. The lady heard the splash and anxiously asked Mother if that was her "big one." Mother said, "I don't know," and tilted the pail again and you guessed it; the other, bigger 5-pound Bass flopped out and it too escaped into the depths of White Rock Lake.
The little woman stood up, put her hands on her hips and had an incredulous look as she muttered something about "being there all day and this happens." Then she threw all her fishing gear in her tackle box, slammed the umbrella shut, gave Mother a look that could kill; oh yeah, I think she would have been a goner at that moment. Then the much-distressed and disappointed little fisher woman stalked off toward her car.
Mother and I hardly talked on the drive back home. When Dad asked how the fishing outing went, I told him, "You don't want to know!" On Mother's Day that year I presented her with her own tackle box and a scrapbook with a montage of pictures I had taken that infamous day at the lake.