I was walking to the mailbox yesterday to see if the IRS had any more requests to make of me. The Postal Service is having a row about mail delivery on Saturday. I was wishing Saturday was the only day they did deliver. I was barefooted. I had been in the garden pulling the newly sprouted thistles of whatever part of Hades they come from. When I tired of that I started to the mailbox. As I was slowly and painfully making my way across those gravel rocks I saw a small pickup coming, pulling a small boat. The truck pulled up and stopped right next to me. An elderly gentleman leaned toward me and started right in giving explanation why he stopped.
He asked if I was a Vickers. I said yes. He asked if Myrtle Vickers was my sister. I told him no, that she was my Mother. “Your Mother?” he asked incredulously. I assured him I was her son and he started right in with his life story. “I am (I’ll just call him Mr. Young). I married Lucille Peterson.”
I said I had heard of her from my Mother but that is all I had a chance to say before I heard a story that tugged at my heart.
“I been coming by this here lake for years and always wanted to fish in it”, he said.
I had heard this part of the story many times from many people but who were always politely turned down in their request for fishing rights. But there was more from this gentleman.
“I am 87 years old and a WW2 veteran. I shook hands with the Russians at the Elbe River Bridge when our forces met as we were routing the Germans. I fish alone. I won’t ever bring anyone with me. If I catch any, you can have them but if you don’t want them I will give them to some old folks, shut-ins I know. They so glad to get them that sometimes they cry that somebody has thought of them.”
He was thin and wore camo overalls. He spoke rapidly, breathless, almost desperately, as he tried to convince me of his sincerity, and I knew every word he said was true. I told him, “No, Sir. I won’t let you fish in this lake now because we have an Osprey nest and the hen is setting and I don’t want her disturbed, but if you will sit right here and let me put up my mail, I will get my shoes and take you to another lake just over the hill where you can fish any time you want to.” And I did.
As I showed him the way to Otter Lake, he told me more of himself, how he only saw his Mother once in his life when she came to visit him at basic training when he was 18, just before he went overseas. He never saw her again.
He told me how good the Lord was to him and how much he appreciated getting out of the war alive and eventually marrying Miss Lucille who had been a good and faithful wife until she passed. How he had become disabled and now had nothing to do but fish and visit old folks with a fresh mess of fish if he could catch them.
The lake in my back yard is 40 acres and beautiful. The back lake is only 30 acres but is equally beautiful with black water and every kind of fish in South Georgia. When I pulled up and showed him Otter Lake on Big Forky Creek, he let out a laugh at the beauty of it. I showed him where he could put in with his one-man boat and told him he was welcome anytime he wanted to come. I only asked that he call and let me know when he was coming, so that when he did, and if he did not make it out and someone called and asked about him, I would know where he was.
He said, “Ain’t nobody gone call, son. I ain’t got nobody. I live alone.”