An Angelic Fish Story

She believed her grandson's tales of catching tremendous trouts, but would anyone else?

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- Posted on Jun 3, 2013

An artist's rendering of an angel fishing alongside Miles

There was nothing my grandson Miles loved more than fishing. I spent a lot of time at his house, so I knew just how devoted he was to his hobby.

Every day during that summer after fourth grade he’d head out with his pole, his tackle box and a bag of stale bread to toss into the pond for bait. He didn’t keep the fish he caught, but he kept a detailed written record for himself.

One afternoon Miles came running home, bursting with excitement. “I caught the biggest fish ever today!” he announced. “It was this big!” He stretched his hands apart carefully, giving us the length from nose to tail. “Yep, it was exactly this big!” he said.

“That’s great, Miles,” I said. “You must be fishing with angels!”

Mark, his father, shook his head. “You caught a fish that big in a pond that small? I think someone is exaggerating a little bit.”

His face fell. “I’m not!”

Mark laughed. “Okay, then. Someone’s fibbing.”

“It’s not a lie,” his mother, Joan, said. “It’s a fish story. That’s what people call it when fishermen go a little overboard talking about a catch.”

Joan was trying to be helpful, but it just made Miles more upset. Even his older brother, Tommy, didn’t believe him. “No way,” he said. “You really would need an angel to catch a fish like that in the pond.”

“It’s not a lie and it’s not a fish story!” Miles said loudly and stomped up the stairs.

He stayed in his room until dinner. When he came reluctantly downstairs I tried to cheer him up. “Sometimes it’s hard for people to believe things they haven’t seen with their own eyes.”

“Up in my room I thought about keeping the next fish I caught just to prove it to them,” he said. “But why should the fish have to die so other people will believe me? I decided I didn’t care. Me and God know how big the fish was, and that’s all that matters.”

I was impressed by how well Miles had handled his frustration, but I couldn’t help but wish he’d been able to offer some proof of his champion catch.

His mom bought him a disposable camera to take to the pond on the outside chance he caught another big one. I hoped that would solve the problem.

A few day later Miles came home with another fish story. “I couldn’t get the camera out of my bag in time,” he said.

“Sure you couldn’t!” said Tommy, grinning. “Just admit it already. No picture, no fish.”

“Oh, I got a picture all right,” said Miles. “The fish was wriggling around on my line while I wrestled with my camera bag. When I was sure I’d have to give up and throw it back, a lady came walking by with a little white dog. I’ve never seen her at the pond before.

“She pulled a camera out of her pocket and offered to take my picture. She says she’ll come back to the pond tomorrow and give it to me.”

The story sounded a little fishy—a lady walking by at just the right moment? With a camera? But sure enough the following afternoon Miles brought home a picture of himself with a very impressive fish.

“Guess we can’t argue with this one,” Mark said. “It’s right there on film. I wonder who that lady was.” I wondered to myself if the angels at that pond carried cameras!

Miles continued to fish at the pond and he took lots of pictures for his scrapbook. Sometimes his family still teased him about the ones that got away. It was all in fun, but Miles didn’t like anyone thinking he was a liar, even as a joke.

God knew he was telling the truth. People were harder to convince.

On the last day of summer vacation I went over to the house in the late afternoon. Miles came bounding through the door. From the look on his face, he’d caught a big one.

“The biggest one of all,” he claimed. “I was lying on the bank looking up at the clouds when I felt a tug on my line. I really had to wrestle with it. With my other hand I tried to find my camera. I felt all around my bag and even dumped it out on the bank. But the camera wasn’t in my bag!”

“So no picture,” said Tommy. “No picture of the biggest fish ever.”

“Looks like it,” said Miles, with a little smile. “Guess you’ll just have to believe me because I say it’s true.” He trotted up the stairs to get ready for dinner. Miles didn’t seem upset. He changed clothes, did his chores and ate dinner without bringing up the fish.

But after dinner he got on his computer and called us into the room.

“I forgot to finish telling you about what happened today at the pond,” he said. “A man came running down to the bank as I was about to let my big fish go. The man’s house overlooks the pond. He’d seen me searching for something and thought I was in trouble, so he came running out.”

Miles tilted his computer screen so we could see the e-mail the man had sent. Miles clicked on the photo attachment: a shot of Miles at the pond. In his hands he held the most enormous trout stretched across his chest. The fish’s head was in one hand and the tail in the other.

“It was sure lucky Mr. Stevens looked out his window at just the right moment, wasn’t it, Dad?” Miles asked. “You see, he’s a photographer. He was in such a rush to help me he didn’t stop to take the camera from around his neck.”

“It was more than lucky,” Mark said, staring at the picture.

“Another angel at the pond!” I said. The family laughed. Tommy held up his hand for a high five with Miles.

No one ever would have believed there were fish that big in that little pond. They wouldn’t have believed there were angels there either. Miles had proved them wrong.

 

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