Fishy smelling water. Odd, maybe, but not to me. I am truly swept back to my childhood when I am near water. The unmistakable smell of fish, green algae, and even a hint of gasoline, and I am transported back in time.
It is my summers as a child, visiting my grandparents on Lake Wisconsin. My grandparents are gone now. My time as a free spirit diving off their pier until I was a water logged rag doll, is over. My treasured time fishing with my grandfather will never happen again. I will never hear that distinct sound of my grandfather opening a can of beer, or telling me in his best pirate voice, “I’m gonna throw you in the drink.” He was a brilliant fisherman, just like his father before him. He cared desperately whether or not my little sister and I caught a fish. It meant a little less to me. I just enjoyed being out on the lake, with the motion of the boat and hollow smack of the water lapping against it. I remember the warm burn of the sun on my propped up bare feet (Just like my Gravatar!). The water was always like glass in the early morning, so quiet and calm. The cicadas had not yet started their incessant buzzing. I remember the lunches that my grandma had so lovingly packed for us to enjoy out on the water. We were always treated to a can of Squirt. I was not allowed to have pop growing up so this really was a treat. I miss watching my grandfather clean the fish we were lucky enough to catch that day. His knife looked more like an ice pick; it had been sharpened so many times over the years that the blade was getting thinner and thinner. His hands could expertly dismantle a fish in minutes, until all that was left was the perfect white flesh that he would later beer batter and fry for the evening dinner.
I tell my children stories of my grandparents over and over. They roll their eyes now, but I know that means that they will never forget. Once my parents are gone and I am gone, who will live on to tell my grandparents stories? Their stories will eventually fade and no one will be here to remember them. That is difficult and brutal to digest.
I have been visiting their small little place on Lake Wisconsin for the last few years during the summer. I want my children to experience what I hold so dear. I hope it stays with them as it has with me. It is bittersweet to be where they once were. I cry every time. It is haunting and sad and I have to stop myself from thinking about it too much. New people are in their space now. I don’t like it. It feels disrespectful and I know that is silly. There are a few left in the area that remember my grandparents, but that generation has mostly faded now. It has been replaced by a new, younger generation to repeat the cycle of creating memories on the lake. That beautiful lake.