The well-used, should-have-been-tossed-years-ago, never-ever-washed-no-matter-what, used-to-be-tan colored fishing vest; torn pockets, stained and smelly from years of joy fishing, sits untouched on the hanger in the garage. As much as James “Jim” Brauch wore the vest, it is hard to believe that it has sat untouched for more than two years. If the vest could speak of all its experiences for this fisherman, husband, father, grandfather and mentor, the stories would encompass many lifetimes of reading!
A few “hooks” of family life Jim “casted and reeled”.
“Jimmy and I grew up just two blocks from each other attending the same middle and high school. We walked to school together with mutual friends, yet never spoke to each other. He was shy and not the type of boy to ‘make the first move’.
After we graduated high school he joined the Marines. I did not think too much about him except that I always thought he was kind and handsome! While he was in the Marines I left for a vacation to Hawaii with friends. On one particular day my girlfriends and I were shopping at the Ala Moana shopping center, coming out of Liberty House with armfuls of packages (great sale!) and I could not believe it. He was standing a few feet away from me!
We looked at each other; recognition setting in. He asked “Don’t I know you?” Later he explained to me that he had been with a friend “hustling” girls. We went on a few dates while I was in Hawaii and then it was time to go home. Jimmy was stationed in Oahu and when he came home on leave we would see each other. Upon completion of his tour of duty he came back home and we both attended college, eventually marrying and having three incredible girls.
On our 40th anniversary we “honeymooned” in Hawaii like we had in the beginning, taking photos where we met at the shopping center. It was fun to “go down memory lane”, reliving those precious moments. We were able to celebrate a total of 45 years of incredible marriage prior to his death. I miss him each and every moment of every day but also smile at the wonderful experiences that we shared. I am so proud of him, his accomplishments and the experiences that we shared together.”
"We found a cat on our front porch and, as a young child, I wanted the cat. When I asked Dad if we could keep the cat, he quickly responded, ‘No, we do not need any more cats, it can find another home,’ I smiled the ‘right way to melt Dad’s heart’ asking him if we could please feed the hungry kitty and keep it in the garage overnight. Seemingly a ‘firm dad’, he softened and said that we could keep the cat in the garage JUST for the one night. At bedtime I snuck in the garage and took the kitty into bed with me and promptly went to sleep. When dad checked in on me he saw the bump under the covers, looked in, saw the cat curled up and….we had ‘Kitty Kitty’ for a very long time!”
Dad would pick us up early from daycare at grandma’s house to “go fishing” at Blackmans Lake in Snohomish. Our first stop was always at Kentucky Fried Chicken. We would take the bucket of chicken, doughnut holes, Coke and a bag of Doritos to the boat. I think we probably enjoyed the food and boat ride more than the patience it took waiting to “hook” a fish. Having time with dad was so very special, even if we didn’t say anything but shared the physical space of the boat, the fresh air, the quiet of the water.
As a police officer, dad worked nights, so the time we had to spend with him was very precious. When we did catch a fish, dad had us keep track on a wooden oar; we would mark it with first, largest catch and most caught. We talked a lot about religion when fishing. He said that fishing and being outdoors is appreciating all that God created. Needless to say, I often reflect on our conversations and still find them insightful, engaging and precious.
College was tough for Dad. He worked full time while attending the University of Washington and Western completing a Master's Degree in Counseling. With his education experience and struggles he encouraged us to always do our academic best and that is a gift that I pass on to my children.
As an adult the opportunities to spend one-on-one time with Dad did not happen often and when a chance arose I jumped at it! One day I happened to stop by the house, I was in jeans and stylish heels, when he said. “Hey I am going out on the boat, want to come along?” Of course, I wasn’t going to miss the chance and joined him, high heels and all! The conversation is long forgotten but the feelings of spending time with my dad, feeling happy and loved, will always be with me.
My oldest daughter, Kaitlin, has fond memories of always getting a mint that “Grandpa” would carry in a container in the front pocket of his jeans. Her beloved yellow bear ‘Dabu’ that she sleeps with nightly and carries everywhere, came from a flower arrangement grandpa picked out in the hospital gift shop the day she was born. When Kaitlin was about 4 years old she would talk non-stop to grandpa about riding in his boat. One day we headed up the Snohomish River in his boat, ‘Dabu’ of course was along for the boat ride! Grandpa talked to Kaitlin all about his favorite fishing holes and places he played at when he was a kid. He of course, brought doughnut holes, ‘a staple’, while on the boat! She misses her grandpa dearly and talks about him all the time, sharing memories with her younger sister, Hailey; born shortly “after Grandpa passed.”
Establishing the Steelhead and Salmon Youth Organization, fulfilled Jim’s passion to encourage, promote and teach youth how to fish and experience the great outdoors. As a family, it is imperative that we keep the organization and its’ mission continuing. Please consider donating through this website.
Clicking on the DONATE button, your contribution enables the Steelhead and Salmon Youth Organization to continue its’ mission and support Jim Brauch’s motto: Give a Kid a Fish, Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Kid to Fish, Feed Him for Life.
Please join us to honor Jim Brauch and his fishing vest at a Memorial Celebration
North Gissberg Pond, May 20th, 2017, 2pm