Editor’s Log: When Fishing Doesn’t Matter - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: When Fishing Doesn’t Matter

Fishing became the driving force in my life around the time my parents bought their first home. The year was 1987 and I was 7 years old. I already liked fishing, but the house we moved into backed up to a pond that has long been known as one of the best largemouth bass ponds in Massachusetts, most anglers know it by the name A-1. In the spring of 1988, I caught my first unassisted bass standing on a rock less than 500 feet from my back door and, starting at that moment, fishing has dominated my thoughts nearly every day for the 35 years since. Sure there were ebbs and flows for sports and girlfriends and other mini obsessions, but fishing has always been there and has truly guided my life.

Back in April, Orlando Campos of Nor.Cal.Kat Custom Lures sent me a text and told me he was going to be coming to the East Coast for a two week fishing vacation. He thought it would be cool to meet up and catch a tide—I was flattered and excited. We set a date of July 6, I looked at the tides and joked that I knew exactly where we would be fishing that night. He arrived on our shores in late June and spent his first several days on Martha’s Vineyard where the fishing was quite good. At the same time I was catching some good fish at one of my spots (not the spot where I thought we’d be fishing either!) Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly.

As the Fourth of July weekend began, my wife and I planned to have my parents over for dinner on Saturday or Sunday evening, despite repeated texts and calls we were not able to get through to them. I wasn’t alarmed, life happens. I texted my mom and dad together on Saturday morning and my mom responded, “I’ll call you in a minute.” The phone buzzed and when I picked up the phone, my mother burst into tears.

The short version of the story is that my dad had been experiencing terrible pains in his leg so they went to the ER thinking he had an infection. Bloodwork revealed an ugly and terrifying truth—that he was suffering from leukemia. That diagnosis was made around the same time I arrived at the hospital. My mom was drained, having been up for more than 24 hours. My dad was heavily medicated and barely knew where he was.

In what felt like an instant, my life had gone from planning a family day by the pool to being inserted into the chaos of the emergency room on Fourth of July weekend and learning that my dad was going to be battling for his life. In that pivotal moment, the decisions of day went from what kind of biscuits my wife should make for the strawberry shortcake to whether we should wait for the results of the bone marrow biopsy or begin treatment right away.

I spent that night in the oncology unit with my dad, tubes connected all over his body and on so many meds he literally couldn’t even remember his birthday. He kept asking me, “What is this place?” Around 10 p.m. that night, something changed and he was back. His sarcasm, the recognition in his eyes, just… being ‘dad’, it felt like such a relief. We sat up for over an hour and tried to make each other laugh. He was even more ‘himself’ the next day.

Since the start of his chemotherapy, the confusion seems to be back and there are some concerns about its origins—time will tell on that. I’m writing this on July 6 and I will be watching the Red Sox game with my dad tonight—no matter what his state of mind happens to be. The fishing trip with my friend from California will have to wait. And I’m okay with that. If you have a spare second this week, send my dad a prayer or a positive thought—I’m of the belief that there is great power in well-wishes and positivity. A long road awaits, but it’s those little sparks of ethereal energy and messages of encouragement that will play a big role in seeing this through.

And I promise, I will go fishing this week.


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