The significance of ten cannot be denied. Most of us are fortunate enough to be born with ten fingers and ten toes. For the more fortunate, we somehow figure out how to keep ten fingers and ten toes throughout our lives. Wives expect shiny gifts for a ten year anniversary (pretty sure I messed that up). Most high schools have ten year anniversaries. If you like to go bowling, you know that there are ten pins to knock down. Ten’s significance even goes back as far as Moses, in the Bible. God gave him Ten Commandments to deliver to the people at Mount Sinai.
For me, I’ve always measured things by ten. I love a “ten run-rule” in baseball…when I’m on the scoring side. My favorite look to a buck’s antlers is a large 5×5, or a ten point. I’ve also told my wife that I wouldn’t mount another bass unless it was ten pounds. Counting by ten was something we learned in school at a young age (our middle daughter calls it skip counting). Finally, we celebrated our oldest daughters tenth birthday this weekend, and what a celebration.
On Thursday, I started getting the itch. I hadn’t been out in my boat in the last few weeks and, to be honest, I was starting to get melancholy. I started asking my wife the typical questions. What are our plans tomorrow afternoon? What about tomorrow night? She knew what I was doing and quickly shut me down. She reminded me that Mackenzie’s birthday was Saturday, which I needed no reminder for, and that she needed me around the house so she could run some errands. I told her I could be back by 7:30 on Saturday morning, but she wasn’t budging this time. I might have pouted for a minute, but I understood. Yard work it is.
Saturday came and went with a small celebration that evening. On Sunday morning, we went to church and then to lunch at my in-laws. Now was my opportunity. I asked Mackenzie if she would like to go wet a line for a bit to cap off the birthday weekend. She seemed just as eager as I was. I was so excited to head to the lake that I hadn’t even thought of the most basic things. We tossed some rods in the boat and headed toward Columbia, MS to Lake Bill Waller.
I hadn’t fished Bill Waller in over ten years. There’s that number again. We arrived at the lake to find that we were the only people there. An entire state lake to ourselves! I hurriedly launched the boat and we loaded up. One problem…the boat wouldn’t stay cranked for more than a couple of seconds before fizzling out. Why, you might ask? There was no gas. In my race to get on the water, I forgot to even get gas. You can’t run your motor over idle speed in Waller anyway, so we settled for trolling. I didn’t charge that battery either, so I just kept my fingers crossed that there’d be enough juice to get us around for a while.
There was a gentle breeze on the lake that kept the bugs away. The skies were mostly cloudy and the temperature was near perfect following the rains from earlier in the day. The only noise on the lake was the croaking of frogs and the sound of our lures hitting the water. We hadn’t been fishing very long when we saw the first of two alligators. The gator eased on toward the other side of the lake, often raising its entire body to the surface to show us how big it was. I guessed that it was pushing…wait for it, TEN feet long. The second alligator that we encountered was a little bit smaller, but got much closer to the boat.
We fished and talked about how peaceful it was on the lake. With no luck, we finally saw a school of shad jumping on the surface in the distance. A quick lure change and we headed that direction. My first cast into the nervous shad produced a big bite. To my amazement, I’d snagged a 3-4 pound catfish on a Rapala lure, a first for me. A couple of casts later, I caught the first bass of the day. After that, Mackenzie wanted a lure change, too. It didn’t take long and she hooked up with a decent size bass. It was the first bass that she’d ever caught on anything other than a plastic worm, or live bait. Soon, our stomachs told us that it was time to head home.
Now, comes the best part of the entire weekend. What could be better than a birthday weekend capped off by fishing? As we were riding home, Mackenzie told me that she wanted to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior! It kind of came out of nowhere in our conversation, and I could tell that she had been thinking and praying about it. I don’t care if she ever kills another deer or catches another fish, this was absolutely my proudest moment as a father. As I choked back tears on the ride back, I couldn’t help but to think of all of the people that have poured into her life. We’ve been so fortunate and blessed to have so many friends and family to love on our kids. Tonight, my heart is as full as it’s ever been. I’m grateful for another fishing trip that I’ll never forget.