Even though the Upper Sacramento River is open year-round, I had a hotel room booked in Dunsmuir for opening weekend.
Then life got in the way.
I got a call from a family friend saying that my mom had a clot and blood in her brain and was being sent to Seattle. I flew up the following morning and waited for ten hours before the neurosurgeon came to the waiting room to tell a family friend and me that the surgery went well. Over the next few days mom surprised doctors and nurses with her resiliency. The 7-mm aneurysm on her right Middle Cerebral Artery that leaked blood into her brain miraculously left little lingering effects and by the weekend she was ready to declare to doctors her intention of returning home.
Of course there is some more brain healing that must be done before she can even start physical therapy, but physical and mental deficits are slight.
So what does this have to do about fishing?
But fishing has everything to do with life. Mom hasn’t lived the sort of life which requires readjustment. This isn’t a wake-up call. She’s not making promises to live life better or do more things because she almost died and my brother and I are not uttering words unsaid.
Mom isn’t taking stock in her life and vowing change. Nothing about her lifestyle put her at risk of having an aneurysm. She doesn’t smoke. She eats right. She exercises. She fishes.
When my brother and I sat in disinfected chairs next to mom’s bed in the ICU, we didn’t discuss work. We talked family fishing records – my brother’s 45-pound king, mom’s 18-pound coho, my 100-pound halibut. The highlight of our summer was going to be (and still might be) a float trip on the Chena River near Fairbanks, Alaska for arctic grayling. Mom has made it clear she’s not missing that trip.
Mom is also one of the most efficient hunters in the history of mankind. She’s been deer hunting once. She took down a Nebraska whitetail with one shot from a .270, but decided hunting wasn’t for her and she hasn’t been since. We laughed about this and my brother and I started plotting a black bear hunt back home.
Fishing is more than just something you do for fun. After cancer took my dad four years ago, I started healing on the banks of the Thorne River on Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island. If all continues to go well, mom and I will again be on the shore of the Thorne River and maybe even floating the Chena as planned.
We’ll make more memories and continue to live well with a rod and reel in hand.
I thought that maybe one piece on this would do it, but clearly there’s more. Sometimes you write a column, then start over and like the re-write better. Sometimes there are more angles to approach and explore which is what happened. I suppose it provides a more thorough catharsis the more I write about it, but being I only have two publications desiring my words, I’ll have to stop before I start repeating myself.