A Reel Inspiring Love Story

This real life love story involves taking a leap of faith, and kissing a fish!

Posted in , Mar 30, 2011

A reel catch

It was the last place I expected to be—on a fishing boat in the middle of Choctawhatchee Bay at six o’clock on a Saturday morning.

I didn’t even like fishing. I’d gone once before and that was enough. Sitting for hours holding a pole, staring at the water? What a waste of time! I did like Chuck, though. Smart, kind, funny Chuck. I couldn’t say no when he asked me on this trip. We’d been dating for three months…well, I thought we were dating.

It had been a while since I’d been so interested in someone. Seven years earlier I’d gotten divorced and shortly after that I lost my job. I decided I needed a fresh start, so I left Marietta, Georgia, for a new job based in Niceville, Florida.

Shortly after I moved I found a great church and made friends. But love? At my age it seemed all the good men were married or dead!

I signed up for a popular online dating site only to receive an e-mail stating, “There is no one that meets your criteria.” Talk about a bruised ego. Was I destined to be single? Still, something inside me wouldn’t give up hope. I kept praying, Lord, I want someone to share my life with. Please send me the right man to love.

Two years (and many bad dates) later I met Chuck at church. He was a widower, retired from the Air Force, who loved boating and fishing. He had the kindest smile. I remember thinking, Wow! That’s the kind of man I could marry.

We’d talked a few times at church, but I didn’t get my hopes up. Six months later he finally called and asked me out to dinner. I was ecstatic.

Soon we were going out every week to the movies, plays, concerts. Spending time with Chuck felt so right—we talked and laughed for hours. And he was always a gentleman. Maybe too much of a gentleman. Weeks then months passed and he had yet to kiss me. Did he just want to be friends?

One night after dinner we watched a movie back at my place. Chuck sat rigidly on the sofa. I waited for him to reach for my hand, inch closer to me, put his arm around me…some sign of affection. Nothing.

At the end of the night I walked Chuck to my door and looked into his warm eyes. He leaned closer. This is what I’ve been waiting for, I thought. Our first kiss!

“I had a really great time with you, Marilyn,” he said, wrapping his arms around me in a big, brotherly hug.

Still, when Chuck asked me to go fishing a week later, I said yes. I had to know where our relationship was going.

So here we were in a boat on the bay on a clear May morning. The sunrise painted the sky pink and yellow. Ospreys soared above us and great blue herons strolled along the shore. Not far from our boat pods of dolphins rolled through the water. It was breathtaking. Romantic.

I hoped so, anyway. Lord, I’m really falling for Chuck, but I’m not sure how he feels about me and I don’t want to get hurt again. Help me to know if he’s the right man for me.

“Sooo, Chuck, how do I cast my line again?” I asked.

“Like this,” he said, stepping behind me and putting his arms around mine to demonstrate. “Aim right over there.”

I pulled the rod back and swung. Missed. My second try wasn’t much better. I caught my line on everything—docks, boats, trees. Each time Chuck smiled and untangled the line. “Don’t worry; everyone does that sometimes,” he said.

I sat down in the back of the boat and watched Chuck cast like a pro. Soon he reeled in the first catch of the day. He unhooked the fish from the line and held it up for me to see. “It’s a speckled trout,” he said. The he brought it up to his face and kissed it. Kissed it!

I was incredulous. “Why did you do that?!” I exclaimed.

“Do what? Release it?” Chuck asked.

“No! Why did you kiss it?”

“Oh, that’s just for good luck. A lot of fishermen do that.”

“Well, that makes me feel great. Guess I should be a fish!”

He looked at me, puzzled.

So that’s it, I thought. He finds a fish more attractive than me. Great! Not only was my self-esteem shot, but if Chuck was clueless as to why I was upset, what did that mean for our relationship?

The rest of the fishing trip was uncomfortably quiet.

“So, I’ll pick you up for dinner at seven. Is that good?” Chuck asked on our way back to the marina.

“Sure,” I agreed, if only to get an answer if he had feelings for me too.

Dinner was lovely and Chuck was sweet and funny, as always. Back at my house we chatted over coffee. “Let’s take a walk down to the dock,” Chuck said.

He probably just wants some fresh air, or worse he’s going to tell me it’s been fun but he just wants to be friends.

We walked to the dock side by side but not hand in hand. Finally we came to a stop under the glow of the full moon. Chuck stood behind me and wrapped me in his strong arms. “What a nice evening it’s been,” he said, turning me to face him.

I looked into his kind eyes. He leaned down and kissed me…with such passion it took my breath away. “I love you, Marilyn,” he said. “I just wanted to be sure before I kissed you.”

I didn’t wait a second longer to tell him how I felt. “I love you too, Chuck.”

After that we went fishing almost every Saturday morning. I even got to like it, although I couldn’t bring myself to kiss a fish.

One Saturday in August Chuck insisted we go out on the bay even though there were threatening skies. We were the only ones at the boat ramp. “Are you sure you want to fish today?” I asked.

“We’ll just go to our lucky spot,” he said. He drove the boat to where we’d caught fish before. Within minutes something was tugging at his line and he handed it over to me. I reeled it in.

“What do you have there?” he asked.

“I have no idea,” I said, staring at the black lump dangling from the hook.

Chuck reached for it. “It’s a plastic bag,” he said. “There’s something inside.” He cut it open and pulled out a small velvet box. A ring box. He got down on one knee. “Marilyn, will you marry me?” There was a flash of lightning.

“Yes!” I shouted. We made it back to the dock just before the deluge.

Chuck and I have been married for over two years and nearly every Saturday morning you can still find us fishing. On a boat in the middle of the bay at six o’clock in the morning with my husband? There’s no place I’d rather be. After all, fishing is a lot like love. It takes patience and faith to land a great catch.

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