I remember when my grandparents retired and moved to Florida. I was in the eighth grade. I also remember how Mama missed them when they moved.
We kids missed them too, but it wasn't quite the same as it was for Mama. Now that I'm an adult and living so far from my own daughters and grandchildren, I can understand.
We were at grandma and grampa's all the time, when they lived in Ohio at Will's Creek, right next to the river. Sometimes, we'd sleep over, while Mama and Daddy went Christmas shopping, or just needed to get away for the weekend.
There were always so many things to do there, and Grampa and Grandma were so good at teaching us things that we hadn't done before.
Both of them worked in Coshocton. Every spring, the river overflowed its banks when the snow melted and ran down from the hills above. To solve the problem of getting home while the water was over the road, Grampa tied a rowboat to a tree on the far side. Then they rowed to the other side and walked the rest of the way up to the cottage.
That was always such an adventure. I used to pretend I was an indian and the rowboat was a handmade birch canoe. That same rowboat took us fishing on the river in the summertime.
Grampa would only take one or two of us at a time, because there was a right way and a wrong way to do everything with Grampa Shannon -- he taught us the right way to fish, too.
We learned first that we had to be real quiet, "so's you won't scare the fish away"; how to thread the worm onto the hook; how to safely hold the sunfish or bluegill to take it off the hook; and how to thread the large clasp through their gills and out the mouth, so we could keep the fish all tied together in the water just below the side of the boat. We also had to learn how to clean, scale and filet the fish when we got back to the cottage so Grandma could "cook 'em up".
Grandma always packed a picnic lunch to take with us, along with a plastic pitcher of lemonade, or iced tea. I remember staring at the icky worm-goo on my fingers and the fishy smell of my hands and wondering how in the world I was supposed to eat my sandwich. Well, there was a right way to clean up so you could eat, too.
Grampa said, "CJ, don't be such a crybaby." (Grampa was the only one to ever call me "CJ" back then). Anyway, Grampa showed me how to wash up for lunch when you're fishing in a rowboat out on the river.
"CJ, stick your hands over the side in the water there. Now rub 'em together ... see? They're clean. Now, eat your lunch."
... how I miss him now.