Merry Fishmas!

Around here the first day of fishing season is called Fishmas. We’re a small town, don’t ask. So Merry Fishmas. Every year for this particular Saturday the weather is crap. Today lived up to its purpose for the opening of fishing season. I was cold and there was a slight breeze but in all it wasn’t too bad. I don’t fish so I don’t care. Although around here if the weather is perfect for the opening of fishing season, there is something wrong. I think one year it snowed but most of the time, it’s just down right cold and miserable.

So many people asked me yesterday if I was going fishing today. No. One I can’t afford the fishing license (I heard it was about $43) and I have, for the most part, lost my fishing buddy. I remember my grandpa (Pa as I call him) sitting at his desk in the back of the living room with the fish hooks, various colors of feathers, pliers and small gauge wire. He used to tie flies. Not the ones that buzz around your head, but if you’ve never seen fishing flies, you’re missing out. They are gorgeous. Pa taught me once but it’s been so long ago that I wouldn’t know where to start. Pa would gather up our poles and grab the tackle box and off we went in the Toyota up Bishop Creek. Of course we would always stop at Manor Market to pick up some candy and RC Cola and any other junk food that we wanted.

Pa started showing signs of dementia about six, maybe seven, years ago I think. We kind of noticed something wasn’t quite right after his car wreck nine years ago. He started mixing up words and not really making sense which just frustrated him. He t-boned someone who ran a red light and the air bags didn’t deploy like they were supposed to so Pa hit his head on the a-frame. He’s had so many concussions in his life that only sped up the process for the dementia and Alzheimer’s. Pa has what is called speech aphasia which is a language disorder that causes a person to have difficulty in understanding written or spoken language. Pa will recognize us but hasn’t called us by name in about two years. We tell people that it is like having a 79-year-old toddler at home.

I haven’t been fishing in the Owens Valley in at least fifteen years. Pa and I stopped going out like we used to as I grew up and now it wouldn’t feel the same without him. Pa has a hard time doing the simple things that we do every day without thinking about them. One of these days I’ll write about what it is like to live with a person with Alzheimer’s. I don’t think that most people know how hard it is. The last time I went fishing was when I visited my best friend in Oregon in July of 2009. While I had fun being in a boat again holding on to a fishing rod waiting for that little bit of movement when a fish bites, it wasn’t the same. Pa wasn’t there. I don’t know if I will ever go fishing again. Maybe when I have kids I can share some of my memories of fishing with Pa.


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