Saturday, October 13, 2007

Guys on Ice and Grandfathers

Earlier this evening, I went out to Williamston for the opening night of Guys on Ice.

You'll be able to read my review of it on Thursday, so for now I'll be self-indulgent.

I couldn't help tonight but think of my Grandpa as I watched B.J. Love play Lloyd. Sure, they weren't clones, but so many things reminded me of him, from appearance to facial expressions to the man's passions.

See, my grandpa is a fisherman. It's one of the things that I remember the most about him. He was convinced that since we lived in the paradise that is Michigan, it was foolish to ever vacation anywhere else. So every summer, we'd go Up North to Indian Lake near Manistique in the Upper Peninsula. It was my Dad and my Grandpa who taught me how to fish. I learned how to bait my own hook and would watch fascinated in the cleaning house afterward as all the men would clean the fish with a whole slew of fascinating tools.

Walleye were the preferred catch primarily for the sport of it, but Grandpa liked eating perch the most. If we had a good year of fishing, we'd have two fish fries during the week, but we'd always have at least one on Friday.

A few years after my Grandmother died at age 58, Grandpa retired. He moved to Colon, buying a cottage on a lake. Even more importantly, he bought a boat, so he could go out fishing as often as he liked. He loved taking the grandkids and great-grandkids out fishing. He and my cousin became fishing buddies and spent a lot of time out on the water. Grandpa got a lot of use out of the boat before his health declined so that he couldn't go boating anymore. Even then, he'd fish off the dock and simply enjoy the water from his porch. He enjoyed many more years of retirement than most men do (25 years, I believe), and it's safe to say that he truly enjoyed the leisurely life in which he could fish, boat, watch birds, and plant flowers and gardens.

Ten years ago, he had to choose between giving up beer (and other hard beverages) or giving up life. He chose life and Grandpa soon had a health and vitality that was unlike anything I'd seen him like.

While the men in Guys on Ice were Packers fans, Grandpa cheered for the Wolverines--the proud owner of season tickets for many, many years.

I can't envision my taciturn Grandpa singing and dancing like the men in the musical, but he would have enjoyed the sentiment and found much amusement in the songs about snowmobile coats, fishing, and the uncertainty of life.

I think he would have especially appreciated Your Last Day on Earth and The Beer int he Bucket. He isn't one to talk about feelings or the brevity of life, but the fishing metaphors would have amused him.

However, I won't be taking my 80-year-old Grandpa to see this show. Two hours ago--and merely three hours after the show ended--my Grandpa died.

I hope there's lots of fishing in Heaven.

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