As I was writing the post about our trip to Holden Beach, I felt like I should explain a little more about my sweet uncle, Dick. He is not a blood relative of mine, as he is married to my mother’s sister, but he certainly has always treated me as if we were.
He and my aunt met at Virginia Beach when he was in the Navy. He later worked as an elementary school principal, and when I was younger, I remember thinking he must have been the nicest principal ever to exist. I don’t know when it started, but at least all my life I’ve known this man to absolutely LOVE fishing. I don’t know that I know of anyone who loves something so much as he loves to fish.
When I was growing up, our family would often rent a house at the beach for a week, and he’d go fishing all the time. I have a very distinct memory, and it has to be one of my earliest ones because I had to be soooo young, of being at the beach and he and my dad and my brother and maybe another cousin and uncle or two were getting in the boat, and they were asking if I wanted to come. I remember definitely NOT wanting to go, as I was scared of being in the boat in the water. So, I stayed behind with my mom, and off they went fishing. Each night, he’d cook the most delicious fish, crab, clams, whatever the day’s catch had been. And french fries and hush puppies and oh my goodness, was it so yummy!
I don’t remember how old I was when my aunt and uncle bought their house at the lake, but I remember thinking how happy he must have been to be able to just walk through the backyard, jump in the boat, and go fishing whenever he wanted.
Sometimes, when we were younger, my brother and I’d stay at the lake with my aunt and uncle, and at night, he’d take us catfishing. Well, sometimes both of us, but sometimes just me. For a night owl like me, it was absolutely exhilarating. Just the most fun. After dinner, we’d go out in the boat, and he’d do all the work baiting the hooks and setting up our lines, and then we’d wait for the fish to bite. There was lots of waiting. We’d wait and sing. “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…” Wait and talk. He’d teach me things like which side of the boat was starboard and which side was port. He’d ask me what I thought about different things. We’d wait on the peaceful, quiet lake in the light of the moon and watch for those rods to dip enough to know we had a big one. Jump up and grab the rod and set the hook and reel that fish in! He’d do all the work, but he’d always let me reel. That was the most fun and exciting part, after all. Then, we’d wait for the next one. Wait and just sit. Wait and fall asleep on the front of the boat. Ok, maybe that was just me. But, he’d just let me sleep. Some of my fondest memories though, fishing with my Uncle Dick. There’s just something about watching someone else do something they love so much. For them to share it with you is truly priceless. He was just doing what he loved to do, but the fact that he chose to bring me along is something I will probably never forget.
After he retired, he could have been content to fish all day, but he wasn’t. He got his Captain’s license. This is a man who had once almost completed a PhD program, and he said the captain’s test was the hardest test he’s ever taken.
So, a few weeks ago when we were at Holden Beach, I was so excited for Jake to be able to come fishing with us so I could show off my sweet uncle in action. It was only about the third time Jake’d ever been fishing, and his first time going in the ocean on a boat. First time driving a boat, too. Dick still did all the work baiting the hooks and setting up our lines, and I was just so proud as we waited for some fish to bite. And then I caught the first fish. And then we all took turns reeling them in. I may have even fallen asleep on the boat on the way back home. And Jake had a blast.
As much as Dick loves fishing, you’d think that’s all there was to him. But, it isn’t. He’s also an artist. He paints beautiful watercolors, and can carve anything out of a piece of wood. He absolutely loves animals. He’s one of the funniest people I know. He is one of those people that can say something funny with the straightest face. I cannot imagine him angry or upset, though I’m told it has happened before. He is just one of the sweetest, most patient people I know.
And Dick, if you’re reading this, I love ya!