Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A tiny babushka fishing from the dock

"Babushka" by Irina Gaiduk
Recently while climbing into our dragon boat one warm, summer night, I noticed a teeny-tiny, very old woman fishing from the dock just six feet from our boat.

Her slight frame was tucked into a wheelchair. She was so short that her thin legs dangled like a child's. She was dressed like a grandmother from the "Old Country," as my own grandma would have said. Graying hair peeked out from underneath a hefty headscarf tied under her chin. She wore a dark coat, dress and dark stockings, even though it was a warm evening.

In her time-worn hands, she grasped a fishing pole. Her head bent toward the water, she peered intently into the river where her she'd dropped her line. Waiting. Waiting patiently for a bite.

A man who was probably in his sixties--likely her son--stood next to her, minding his own fishing line.

Jeanie, our dragon boat coach, gave the command to "Shove off" and we began the rhythmic paddling to pull our boat through the Willamette River. An hour later, after paddling hard, we returned to the dock.

And the fishing babushka was still there, grasping her pole, peering into the water and hoping for a bite.

I climbed out of the boat and felt compelled to try to talk with this woman. Wish her luck in her fishing.

"Excuse me," I leaned down toward her.

But she shook her head and murmured some words. Russian maybe? Her son shook his head too. No English. They continued fishing in silence.

I wished I'd been able to speak to her. I wanted to tell her that I hoped I'd be fishing and having adventures when I'm 90. That she inspired me to keep paddling my own canoe.

I stood on the dock a moment to watch her, to remember her face. Then I turned and walked with the other Mighty Women toward home.

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