An Outdoor View: Passing stuff on

As Comic George Carlin said, “A house is just pile of stuff with a cover on it.”

Lately I’ve been sorting through my fishing stuff, deciding what I’m still using, keeping what I can’t bear to part with, and giving everything else to my grandkids.

This is no small thing. I’ve had some of this stuff since Kennedy was president, so a lot of it has sentimental value.

Don’t get the idea I’m cashing in my chips. I’m far from ready to quit the game. Ideally, I’ll die with a big fish on my line. My motivation for thinning out my fishing stuff comes from memories of what happened to my dad’s stuff.

Sooner or later, it happens to all of us. Our health fails, and we get to the point where we’re unable to do things ourselves, and we have to depend on others to do things for us. One of these things is to go through a lifetime’s accumulation of stuff and decide what to do with it.

My father had a big pile of stuff. He didn’t spend much time sitting around during the 92 years he lived. Always on the move, his pastimes included photography, woodworking and painting with oil, acrylic and watercolors. When he and Mom had to move from a small house to an apartment in an assisted living facility, dad was in the hospital and unable to help in any way. Mom had suffered a stroke, and had trouble communicating. She often would say “yes,” when she meant to say “no.” As a result, I had to decide what to do with all Dad’s stuff, and get it done within a few days.

I wouldn’t wish those stressful days on anyone, let alone people I love. That’s why I’m going through my stuff now, while I’m able to do it myself.

For example, earlier this week I gave my grandson Derek a pile of fly fishing stuff. It included a fly-tying table and vise, a large box of assorted materials, and all the fiddly little tools you need for tying flies. There was at least 100 flies in boxes, two fly rods, a fly line, several boxes of hooks and some books on fly patterns and fly fishing. I no longer fly fish or tie flies, so parting with it was not only painless, but enjoyable.

Derek, like a kid on Christmas morning, started opening the fly boxes, and the memories came flooding back.

Holding up a fly, he said, “This is a techno-wog, isn’t it, Grandpa?”

Yeah, I said, remembering that we had caught silver salmon “on top” with those while on a trip to Cordova a few years ago.

Opening a box of chartreuse flies, he said, “Alright! Coho Kryptonites! We killed ‘em on these. Remember, Grandpa?”

“I’ll never forget it,” I said.

Remembering the good times made giving away that stuff easy. Now I’m looking forward to giving another grandson my saltwater fishing stuff, and hearing about the time I almost drowned him in Prince William Sound.

Les Palmer can be reached at

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