When I was a little boy many years ago, there was a very special place. I called it Grandpa's Lake. Way up in Northern Minnesota, this long narrow deep special lake was named after a president; Roosevelt Lake.
Every summer, usually the end of June, grandpa & grandma arrived in their brown Chevy, packed us all up, and took us to his lake. There, by my grandfather's skilled hand, I learned to fish. Grandpa loved trolling up and down the shores of the lake. With me on one side, and my brother on the other side of the old wooden classic boat, we enjoyed the thrill of our then young lives; the catch!
My grandfather's fishing mentorship taught me much about life. The preparation of putting all things in order before embarking upon a fishing expedition was excruciating at times. All I wanted to do was fish! The patience required in fishing constantly taught endurance. Self-control came into play upon setting the hook on a large pike or walleye. The excitement and heart-pounding was at times overwhelming. And, dealing with disappointment, for there is much of this in life, proved a valuable lesson too. Bringing a 30 inch walleye right up to within arm's reach in the water, only to have it flip off the hook and escape produced angst.
Eight years ago, after living in South Africa for more than twenty years, I moved back to that lake. My mother was in failing health, and it was a good time to be close. Often, I took my little fishing boat out on the lake once again enjoying the bounty of nature. Still enjoying the lake, this time, somehow, it had lost some of its magic. Something was gone, and I knew exactly what was missing.
You see, what made "Grandpa's Lake" grandpa's lake, was grandpa. The magic of the lake was in the magic of the person and my relationship with that person. Memories indeed are sweet, but they also possess some bitterness too. The special people who made that lake special, just about every one of them, are now gone. The lake is still there, but it does not call out to me as much any longer.
So, I'm looking for new lakes these days; lakes that will once again speak. Lakes which are located close to my sons and their families. It's within these lakes I hope to create a new grandpa's Lake. To create a new identity for a very small audience of very little people.
Perhaps, if enough time is spent in my small fishing boat, on a small lake, that lake might gain a special name too. For special little people now spend time with me in my boat these days. A boat, these little people call, Papa's Boat.
Just My Thoughts,
My daughter-n-law raises funds to buy books for libraries in Kenya. She does this remarkable thing through Usborne Books. She hosts book party after book party. Through her parties, she has personally equipped seven libraries in Kenya with books.
Recently, she received a call from Usborne asking her to talk with a school in Milwaukee about the possibility of helping them acquire reading books. So, she ventured into a place few Anglo people dare to go these days; intercity Milwaukee.
Upon arriving at the school, she was struck by the architectural beauty of the old building. She was equally as impacted by the lack of essentials for teaching and learning in the classroom she visited. The paradoxical contradiction was stark. Such a magnificent facility barren of many things; in particular, books. Wendy, the teacher, explained that she often went to the public library. There she checked out books with her library card, and brought them to her classroom. It was one of the few ways the children gained access to good books in her classroom.
My daughter-n-law offered to help. She explained that all her earnings she made selling children's books, went to assist kids in Kenya to get good books. She continued, "But . . ." and was interrupted by Wendy. The teacher blurted, "We have poor kids right here. My kids I teach come to school hungry every day. I use my money to buy food and bring it to school to feed my students in the morning. And, we have no books." "Yes, I can see that," she compassionately replied. "That's why I am going to donate all my profits to your school. To help you get more books for your students."
A Special Teacher. Perhaps, most will agree that Wendy is a very special teacher. Teachers receive some bad publicity these days. Sure, there are plenty of points in our educational system to criticize, I suppose. Yet, there are teachers like Wendy. Scores of dedicated teachers like her throughout our nation who sacrifice for our children. They deserve better because they give better. They give better to make their communities better places.
A Special Daughter-n-Law. Here is another special person! She seeks no praise for what she's done and continues to do. In Kenya, the people there offered to name several school libraries after her. She politely turned them down. "There's no need to put my name on your school libraries. I'm just happy the children have good books to read." I think of an organization I belonged to for years, Rotary International. Their Club motto is,"Service above self." Here that motto is perfectly exemplified.
Special Needs. Getting hungry students food to eat and books to read is indeed a tragically special need in this great country of ours. Here, two women are doing their part to help underprivileged students in the intercity of Milwaukee.
May their example be our example to love others more than ourselves. Wouldn't this great land be a much better and prosperous place if everyone did the same?
Just My Thoughts