Growing up, there were hand me down guns and fishing rods. Everyday after school I would carelessly throw my school bag in the corner of the porch, grab a gun or fishing rod and off I went.
Mom and Dad gave up trying to get me out of the woods before dark, so for a Christmas gift, mom organized a pack with matches, a knife, extra mitts, a compass and other supplies that would up my chances of staying alive in the event I got lost or broke my leg. When she scolded me for not getting out of the woods before dark, I would say…. “That’s your fault”. She knew what I meant because I was born in December and she had me fishing in late April. A countless amount of times (almost weekly before my teens) mom and I went to the river and few times did we returned home before dark. At times Dad would be giving us both hell for being so late.
Mom use to hunt as well. Mom had to hunt as she was the oldest of her siblings and her mother died when mom was 14 years young. Her father was a fishermen who wasn’t always home so she had to fend for the family. Out of need, she became a proficient hunter/angler, a great cook and a family matriarch. Nearing the end of her sibling responsibilities, she met Dad. They got married and after having 10 kids of her own, they adopted my younger sister.
We were poor but one of the happiest families around. We grew up honing our skills in the arts of angling/hunting, learning to love, being humorous, and becoming good musicians. John P., one of my older brothers, traveled North America with his musical entertaining night club act called J.P. and Charlie. Charlie was a 6 foot tall dummy that John P. made. Also my nephew and niece, namely Jimmy and Rosie, traveled as far away as Japan with a band called the Cotters. Rosie still plays professionally. Sometimes as a solo artist and sometimes she goes with John McDermott, Hanson or whoever else calls her.
Our house was a place that many people came to visit as they were guaranteed, tea, lots of laughs and warm hearted conversations. We were a unique family but a bit on the wild side. Both my parents were dearly loved by our community and beyond.
My older brothers remembers a time when mom would go hunting and fishing for food. By the time I came of age, our hunting and fishing was for recreation and the acquired taste for fresh fish and a delicious partridge/rabbit stew with dumplings that mom would make.
When up in years, Dad reminisced about the good old days. During one of these conversations, Mom said, “ There were no good old days” and little wonder. Mom’s childhood was brutal. They lived in a cold house, no money, her mother died when mom was 14 which is when she was faced with the responsibility of looking after her 6 younger siblings. It was tuff but they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Mom was only 5 feet tall but incredibly strong both mentally and physically. It’s amazing after enduring such hardships she was still able to love, laugh and for that matter even survive. Mom died at age 83 on this day of Jan 24 in 2001. To the best fishing partner a guy could have…. May God rest your soul….rest in peace mom!