By Shirley Palmerton
We have always been a fishing family. Put us next to a lake, and we’ll have a pole in our hands within minutes. As soon as the children were big enough to wear a life jacket, they had one on.
Every year when my husband had a week’s vacation coming up, he studied the small lakes in Canada with cottages for rent and found one he hoped would be perfect.
Many times the cottages were a great disappointment, but we knew the lake in front of us was filled with fish waiting to be caught.
One time, another camper told my husband about a spot where he had caught quite a few fish. The next morning we were up early. Lunch was packed, night crawlers were bought and we headed toward that end of the lake.
The two boys sat in the back with my husband, near the motor, and I sat in the front of the boat, my two hands behind my back holding onto our 3-year-old daughter’s life jacket.
When my husband found the perfect spot, near some weed beds and shade from the large trees on shore, our daughter said, “Look, I laid the worms in the sun to get warm.” They were dead.
My husband’s face fell, and he said, “I guess we’ll use plugs here.”
After our middle son died from a brain tumor, we decided to take the other two children fishing because we hadn’t gone for years. My son hadn’t been up to it.
We heard from our neighbor about an island in the middle of a small lake in Canada. The Canadian government owned all the land around it.
There was only one cabin, and it was empty.
When we got to the lake, we honked the horn, and a boat picked us up. This time the meals were served in a rustic dining room. The toilet was an outhouse, and when you were done, you turned a switch and electricity came on and burned it. Accommodations were rough.
We didn’t care at all and had a wonderful time catching fish. We brought a bunch back to the cook, who fried them. Many we threw back.
We took our children back to that lake several times, but eventually they both married and moved away. Years went by.
Prior to our 50th wedding anniversary, I told my children we didn’t want a surprise party. We didn’t want people coming to the house, bringing gifts and singing “Happy Anniversary.”
And we didn’t want to go to a restaurant. I had a lot of “don’t wants.”
On the eve of our anniversary, we went to our daughter’s house in Virginia. She said, “We want to give you your present.”
Our son in North Carolina was on the phone and said, “Mom, read the card.”
It said, “For your anniversary present, the two of us are taking you to the Island for a week. They don’t serve meals anymore, but we’re bringing the food, and we will treat you both hand and foot.”
With tears streaming down my face, all I could say was, “There’s nothing in the world we want more.”
We went. We fished. We played cards. We swam. We ate. And we rode around in a boat. Several times I woke to the smell of eggs and bacon frying.
It has been 16 years since that trip. Life is not the same, but our children could never top what they did for us on our 50th anniversary.
All I have to do is look at the album full of pictures of the trip and smile. Nothing could top that gift.