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Stories and Poems
Omer C. Caldwell Sr.
20 January 1999
A Night The Fish Weren't Biting
The air smelled sweet. It was warm and moist in the June night air. The water of the pond was so perfectly still. The sun had gone down over a patch of cattails. It looked as if a mighty red head was lying down to sleep on the soft velvet of the cattails. This would be a perfect night to go fishing. I was so glad I had talked mom into going with us. The whole family would remember this night for a long time to come.
Crickets started to chirp about the same time that the sun disappeared behind the dam of the pond. It was mother nature's orchestra. It sounded as if a hundred crickets were playing in harmony as some bull frogs joined in with the bass. Chirp, chirp, moan, chirp, chirp, moan, and the orchestra played on.
The hooks were all baited and cast out into the water as I leaned back, took a deep breath of that warm addictive air, and started reminiscing of past fishing trips.
Just as I was drifting somewhere between awake and asleep my mother asks," Are you ready to go yet?"
"Huh; Oh, oh no they'll start biting in a minute," I said. Secretly I hoped that the peace wouldn't be interrupted.
"Well okay," was mom's only reply.
"Daddy can you put more stuff on my hook?" came the question from my son Chris, his big eyes shining in the light of the lantern.
Now putting chicken liver on a hook as bait to catch a catfish is quite an art in itself. First you take a pinch of the warm, slimy goo into your hand, then you proceed to
knead it onto the hook. With this done, if you have experience fishing with children, you cast the line out for them. If you let someone cast a liver baited hook who doesn't understand the fine art of casting, then you will be repeating the entire baiting procedure again.
After getting the liver on the hook comes the most important two steps of the procedure: put the lid back on the liver and wipe your hands on anyone that won't be sitting near you. This is to ensure that the mosquitoes follow the other person and not you.
"Are we ready to go yet?" came the question from mom.
"They'll start biting in a minute," I replied
"Do you remember that time...?" I continued.
I had to start a story or the whole expedition would get cut short. Mom was getting bored and being the oldest person present and since her grandchildren were here, whatever she said went. If mom decided to leave I would be out voted.
All of a sudden there it was! The tell-tell tap on mom's fishing line.
"I got one! I got one!" mom was yelling
Now having been fishing a time or two, I knew mom was in for a big surprise. When you're catfishing there are two types of bites that you get. One is the hard hit when a big fat catfish takes the bait. He will put up a strong fight; twisting, pulling, rolling, and diving until your arms get so tired that they ache. The other bite is the slow gentle tap that mom had just felt on her bait.
Mom started to reel in the line. Her pole bent under the strain but still there wasn't any fight. What she had caught just simply let itself be reeled in. Now I knew it.
"Hold your rod up high, don't let it get loose!" I instructed. My mouth starting to water just thinking of the several different types of meat that would come from this catch.
Then it broke the water; I knew it, a turtle, but not any regular turtle. This turtle's head was as big as a football and its shell was as big as a number three washtub. You know the ones; metal, about three feet in diameter and every time your mother washed you in the thing it left a big number three imprinted on your tail.
The turtle hissed as its head came through the surface of the water. Not just any hiss but it sounded as if a tractor trailer's tire had just gotten a hole in it at the same time that the driver had released the air brake.
"Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness, that ain't no fish!" mom yelled.
"Hold it up, don't let it in the mud!" I ordered as I was reaching around this big mad monster trying to grab it by the tail.
My heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my ears. I was thinking, "If this thing grabs me with its mouth I'll lose an arm for sure."
I grabbed the tail. "On no," I e would ever believe how big it was without proof. As the turtle went deeper and my lungs ached for air, the realization hit me. The turtle was reeling me into his turf now. Alas, I had to let go.
My lungs thanked me as my head broke the surface of the water and I sucked down the sweet air. Back on shore I set down to get my composure. I bummed a cigarette from mom (mine being as water logged as I was) and started putting my pole and tackle together to take home.
"You ready to go now mom?"
"No, not now they're starting to bite."
Today I was born, my mom held me close and tight
Today I was walking, what a wonderful sight.
Today I started school; I paint, color, and play
Today I finished school; where I'll work I can't say.
Today I got married to the love of my life
Today I held my first child; half me, half my wife.
Today I miss my last child; gone to live at school
Today I have grand kid's to teach the golden rule.
Today I say good-bye to friend's with whom I work
Today I have gray hair and people think I'm a jerk.
Today I pass with a sigh, now is my time to die.
Omer Caldwell Sr.
"Long, long ago God made a decision,
a very important decision;
one that I'm really glad He made.
He made the decision to make you.
The same hands that made the stars made you.
The same hands that made the canyons made you.
The same hands that made the trees
and the moon and the sun made you.
That's why you are so special.
God made you.
-- "Just in Case You Ever Wonder" by Max Lucado
Mommy and Daddy please don't be sad.
I miss you so much, too.
It's beautiful here where I am,
but I worry a lot about you.
I sleep with angels watching me,
there's only love up here.
I'm never lonely of afraid
'cause God is always near.
I walk with Jesus every day.
He's very kind and sweet.
Don't worry, Mommy and Daddy, He holds my hand
when we cross a golden street.
I never cry or hurt myself,
I see rainbows every day...
I play and laugh and sing a lot
and hear you when you pray.
Please, Mommy and Daddy, don't be mad at God.
You see, He loves me, too.
And, even though you're not with me,
I'm really still with you.
- by Susan Harper Simpson -
"Whosoever is a little one, let him come unto Me"
"You shall be carried at the breasts,
and upon the knees they shall caress you.
As one whom the mother caresseth, so will I comfort you"
My son's voice I did hear
I opened my eyes and looked around,
But he did not appear
He said, "Mom you've got to listen,
You've got to understand
God didn't take me from you, mom
He only took my hand.
When I called out in pain that night,
The instant that I died,
He reached down and took my hand,
And pulled me to His side.
He pulled me up and saved me
From the misery and pain.
My body was hurt so badly inside,
I could never be the same.
My search is really over now,
I've found happiness within,
All the answers to my empty dreams
And all that might have been.
I love you all and miss you so,
And I'll always be nearby.
My body's gone forever,
But my spirit will never die!
And so, you must all go on now,
Live one day at a time.
Just understand- God did not take me from you,
He only took my hand.
- author unknown