I read my first Hemingway novel at the recommendation of a friend. I didn’t expect to know him. The old man, I mean. But I do. I grew up with him.
The old man sat repairing his nets and watching me grow up. He saw the devastatingly bored child lying on the floor, he watched while I took apart things I could never repair. He listened while Granddaddy read me Bible stories, and later he watched as I plowed through dozens of books in a summer. He watched me watch my grandfather fall asleep in his chair every afternoon surrounded by his books.
I never returned to my grandparents house after their death, so as far as I am concerned, there he will sit repairing his net, thinking of his great fish and me, for the rest of time.