My sister called me late last night to tell me he’d stopped breathing. Grandpa had liver cancer, and around the time the picture above was taken he had stopped treatment knowing there was nothing else that could be done.
William Brown was a man who loved the water. Even as he was nearing the end he would talk to me about how if he was going to still be around then he wanted to be at the lake, which is where my grandparents took me and my sisters most weekends when we were growing up. Lake harding is small impound on the Chattahoochee River in East Alabama and it’s where my grandfather loved to go. My mother successfully battled cancer for the better part of the first decade of my life, and so during treatments and time away from home we spent most of the time with our grandparents at the lake.
Grandpa would always say that there was nowhere else on the lake that had more fish than right off the end of our pier. I believed him mostly until I was able to take the boat out on my own. I’m not so sure that’s true. I do know that while there are some fish out by the pier there were more good memories found there than anything.
I can remember plenty of nights after dinner going down to the dock with a minnow bucket and bamboo poles and fishing what felt like all night long (usually until about 9:30). I can also remember feeling a tug on my line and getting so excited that I jumped up real quick and fell in the water. Turns out the only thing I came up with was a drifting tree branch and my last pair of dry clothes.
We had been saying goodbye to Grandpa for a while now. I was fortunate enough to last see him when he was conscious and coherent. I love him and I know he loves me. After receiving that phone call from my sister I was able to get directions from Tommy Ellis and head out to a small creek that runs off the Cumberland river so I could cast a line. No fish were caught, but that’s okay. I was able to talk to God and reflect on my grandfather. There’s no doubt the incredible relationship that Grandpa and I had throughout my life. Grandpa taught me how to fish, and I mean that in more ways than just hooking a crappie, bass, catfish, or bream and reeling it in.
For all those memories and lessons learned, I’ll forever be thankful. He came and did for me what I can hopefully do for others one day, and if you knew William Thomas Brown then you knew that’s what he lived for.
I love you, Grandpa.