Fishing for Memories

Nana fishing

The fisherman comes up
Puts his two poles in the sand
Stares out at the sea
Just exactly like me
But I’ve got a book in my hand
We will have caught on to something
By the end of the day
But mostly we think about
The one that got away

Indigo Girls ~ Fleet of Hope

This is my maternal grandmother, Dottie Kalb, but at first glance, friends think it’s me. Something about the weather turning cold, makes me miss her. Is it simply that the holidays are approaching and I have no time to spend at the island? Winter is a time for reflection, right? I have  no idea which Florida coast she’s on, but I’ve treasured this picture since I discovered it. I have her hair, curling wildly in humidity, her nose, her mouth, and cheeks. We even wait on our fish, pondering the water similarly.

When I spent the most time with her, she and my grandfather lived in a mobile home park for retirees in central Florida, about an hour away from me. I spent weeks with them in the summer and they took me to good old Florida hot spots like Weeki Wachee Springs to see the mermaids, Crystal River to swim with the manatees (more like manatee poop!), Silver Springs for the glass-bottom boats, Cypress Gardens for the water ski show (now Lego Land). But our afternoons were spent at the pool with her friends, listening to gossip or sitting on someone’s porch doing puzzles and playing cards until Jeopardy! came on.

I remember going through her costume jewelry and seeing pictures of her dressed up, but she always wore shorts and t-shirts and drug me to flea markets for ‘finds’. She loved the beach and the garden and never minded getting dirty or wet.

I think this ache of missing her began when Hubs and I showed the DVD of our wedding to the kids last weekend. At first they groaned, but when they started recognizing people (“Uncle Tim had HAIR?!”) it got exciting. My grandmother was in a wheelchair at my wedding, was very shaky and needed help moving into the pew. My kids never knew her because she died six weeks after my wedding.

My dad’s mom always says the same thing about my Nana, “Dottie was a great lady. She behaved the same around everybody. Comfortable with the highest of the high and the lowest of the low.”

Every memory I have of her has to do with water or treasure. My brain knows she lived in Virginia and Georgia and elsewhere, but to me, she will always be Florida and mermaids and holidays and whispering secrets and “Honey, this is what we’re going to do…”


Leave a Comment

  1. Thanks, A’sC. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And LONGDOGMA – you were the first to carry on about how much that pic looks like me, when Hubs and I bought our first house and hung a row of black and white photos in the hall. 😉 You’re the ever-observant friend.

  2. That post brought back a lot of memories for me. My grandparents lived in Tampa when I was growing up, and my parents took us to all those classic Florida parks. I was FASCINATED with Weeki Wachee Springs, and I remember clearly the glass-bottom boats at Silver Springs and the Cypress Gardens shows. How many of those places are still around? Oh wait, here we go!

    The mermaids have an anthem!

    “We’re not like other women
    We don’t have to clean an oven
    And we nev-er will grow olllllllllld….
    We’ve got the world by the tail!”

    — official Weeki Wachee mermaid anthem

  3. a wonderful little piece. thanks for sharing that and for bringing up old memories.
    my grandma myrt ( myrtis ) taught me to clean my tools before putting them up. .. that “… a ten cent tree in a ten dollar hole is better than a ten dollar tree in a ten cent hole ” … she alway had tea cakes when we got to her house.
    my part of south mississippi is a better world for her having lived there … i am a better person.

  4. Thanks for visiting and liking my post. I love your post. Grandparents are special people. I’m grateful my children have known their’s and got to share in their wisdom.

  5. Such beautiful memories. I’ve lived in Florida for a while now, and have never seen the Mermaids at Weeki Watchee. Your reminiscing makes me want to visit!

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