Mementos adorn every workshop, each a chapter telling the history of the craftsman who toils within its four walls.
Fishing lures marking firsts and friendships, pictures of family and personal bests adorn the walls of mine, waypoints along the river of my angling life.
Among the tabs of skirting material, hooks, and paints hangs a new addition; a photograph I never knew existed until a few weeks ago.
While de-cluttering their home of knick-knacks accumulated over the course of a lifetime together, my parents came across a black and white photograph of my grandfather at his fly-tying bench taken by my dad years ago. When we met for lunch a few weeks ago, my dad handed it over to me.
I don’t remember my grandfather as a fly-tyer. We never spent time on the water together. All I know of him as a fly fisherman is through the stories my dad tells.
What I remember of my grandfather is a tall, strong man who worked hard, enjoyed the outdoors, and demanded the best of me in school.
Those were the good days before the strokes and dementia reduced the man I saw as a giant to a gaunt shadow of his former self, often restrained in his chair to prevent him from hurting himself; a man who in his final days lay curled in the fetal position on a nursing home bed screaming wordlessly.
I don’t remember my grandfather as a fly-fisherman.
What I remember is waking up to my parents talking on the phone the morning he passed.
I don’t remember my grandfather as an angler.
What I remember is seeing him one last time at the viewing, hugging my dad, and crying at a funeral for the last time.
I don’t remember my grandfather as a fly-tyer.
What I remember is the photograph my dad gave me. A thread, a connection through time and generations; a bond over fishing that always existed and had remained hidden away like that photograph waiting to rise to the surface like a trout feeding on a dry fly created by my grandfather, a fly-tyer.