Paul Stotts

“Learing to Fish with granddad” By Paul Stotts

Growing up, I can remember several trips to small ponds around my home town fishing with my grandfather. He was the one that I remember first introducing me to the slippery water creatures I was so fasinated with as a child. My grandfather was a hard working man. He owned a gas station in town for years and knew how to work with his hands. I remember several times staying at him home when my parents vacationed out of country on business. These were the times I distinctly remember our fun days of fishing. Now I should mention, not all of the days with my grandfather were “fun” days. I also remember getting into mischiff for one reason or another and my grandfather teaching me the skill of cleaning a bathroom with a toothbrush. Yes, this is a skill that doesn’t come easy. This was among the life lessons I’ll always remember. There is an easy way to do things, and if you cause trouble, there is a harder way of doing things, and trust me, it’s much easier to take the easy rought.
Onto the fun days. I grew up in a smaller sized town in the middle of Kansas. There were some great nature parks as well as city parks with stocked ponds. This is where I learned to fish. My grandfather would take me to these ponds and we would spend hours talking and trying to catch the fish. Sometimes we got a few, sometimes we just spent the time talking. My grandfather was a chatch and release type guy. I don’t ever remember eating the fish, but maybe we did and it slipps my memory.
My grandfather was one of my favorites growing up. He instilled the love of fishing. A love that I’ve kept to this day. When it came time for my parents to move into a house to raise my sister and I, they even bought a hosue with… guess what… a pond, stocked with fish, having two docks and a small trolling motored boat! What a gift!!! Many of mornings I would wake up, go feed the fish, and wait for the bus. Coming home after school, I would take a pole, catch a few slippery catfish, release them, and spend the rest of the day elsewhere outdoors.
In about my 4th yean in prison, my grandmother and grandfather passed away within about 6 weeks of eachother. It was one of the hardest times I’ve gone through on the inside. The good memories are something I’ll always cherish, and it’s given me motivation to make as many good memories with others as I can. The prison allowed videos of each service to be recorded and sent into me. I was so greatful for this oportunity to have a bit of closure.
Back to fishing, I remember one Sunday morning coming home from a Sunday church service. There were about 15 to 20 people all fishing our small pond. My father was a bit flustered as we drove up the drive way. I believe he made a comment similar to “I told a friend he could come and fish, but I didn’t know he was going to bring ALL HIS friends.” I remember being worried about having significantly less fish in our pond at this point. I had a plan.
Me and my best friend from highschool Shawn got a 10 gallon cooler and headed to the local pond at the nature center. We caught several catfish and attempted to restock the pond. What great memories.
A funny ending to this story, years later I sow Shawn in the prison. Remember this was my best friend growning up. But heres the thing, I was on this side of the fence, not able to leave. Shawn was at the prison working as a medical aid. The first time I sow him, I was so suprised. He wished me the best. We had a few short conversations about out childhood in passing. He no longer works for the department of corrections, and now assists mental health patients, just as his father, a mental Health doctor does. In those times when I sow Shawn in the prison, I had to ask myself… where did I go so wrong. It’s a question I still ask myself to this day. There is an answer that will get me on trach to a better life tomorrow, and that is what I strive for each and every day. Some days are harder than others, but keep striving is the key I’ve found.
Have a wonderful day and do your best to stay positive. It’s that positivity that makes this world work and light shine into each other.

Paul Stotts
DOC #93319

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2 replies »

  1. Loved your story dude, as I have no fond memories of fishing…weird ones but no fond ones.
    But the grandfather heading caught my interest, as it was my grandfather who imparted our heritage to us as we ate on Sunday evenings.
    I was a first born son, seven generations deep, who did not take to the farming life we had in Nebraska. At 10 years of age we left for California, and by 11 I was running with a street gang of pubescents. I had my 12th birthday in Los Padrinos juvenile hall, and was fortunate enough to be placed in a foster home, that it’s members are still my family to this day.

    That doesn’t mean I didn’t catch my dose of gotta have, gotta do, gotta try. And I loved every vice and honed my skills until the power and the money became too exorbitant. From 86 to 89 I traveled from one state to another, serving my 90 days in each for 18 total months of incarceration. Only New Iberia held me for 120 days, and there you’re lucky if they don’t put you on a chain-gang. Whether indoor or outdoor duties, everyone fought the cockroaches at night. And we had catfish every Sunday.

    However, the reason I’m responding is because you wrote. Sincere and almost inciteful, but there were flaws within the production.

    take the easy rought…route. bought a hosue…house. chatch and release…catch. I sow Shawn…saw. and it slipps…slips.
    But heres the thing…here is…or here’s. I love your story, and you have an ability to share it with these words. Writing is an art when people see things within it.
    Editing (proofreading) the story eliminates potholes in the road while reading. I started a book called 6 Months To Sanity while doing 90 days in Hampton City. But the biggest thing I did was to practice reading & writing. Please keep practicing, as I think you have a lot of stories to share. And I hope you make them as enjoyable to read as this was.
    God Bless you and keep you.

    Like

  2. I appreciate your fond memories of your grandfather, Paul. Our stories are made up of people who impact our lives, whose lives we also impact. You made a wrong turn, but the lessons he taught you are still valid. Even behind bars, being a hard worker and a man of integrity is a value. Not alone. Jesus truly does help. But you can honor your grandfather’s memory by being the man he knew you to be.

    Liked by 1 person

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