The Global FlyFisher
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Do me a favor: go fishing!
Yeah, I know it's winter in the northern hemisphere, but a friend's recent passing and an old picture got me to write this.
Just this past week an old fly tying friend died. Kim was one of those friends that I met now and then at shows and different tying arrangements. Our friendship goes all the way back almost to when I started tying flies, and he and I have always had some great talks when we met, which was typically a few times a year.
So, now he's gone.
I knew he was seriously ill, but honestly didn't know it was that serious. I'll spare you the details of what I know, but just say that he was in and out of hospitals and not well at all. But certainly not dying!
That was what I thought until I got the sad news this week.
53 years old, which is no age these days. Not a man in his prime, but certainly someone who ought to have many years in front of him.
Kim was a keen angler and an even keener fly tyer. He told me with shining eyes about his trips to Canada where he fished for salmon in New Foundland. In spite of his enthusiasm over this fishery, I do remember him once telling me, that if he was ever confronted with the choice between fishing and fly tying, he would choose fly tying.
I'm not a big believer in an afterlife, but let's hope he can choose as he pleases now.
Kim's death made me think of Ken,
one of my absolutely closest friends, who passed away this spring. Ken had bone cancer, and he and we had known it was terminal for a while, but it was still a shock and a great loss when he died.
Ken was an even keener fly tyer and fisherman than Kim, and was a great inspiration and influence to most of those who knew him. Ken had his ideas and wasn't always easy to be around, but after he was diagnosed, stopped working and moved to the countryside, he kind of mellowed and was at times both mild and in a much better mood. He fished and hunted as much as he could, which was too little, unfortunately. His pains were severe and considering the amount of medicine he took, I was surprised that he could stand on his feet!
Ken just turned 50 before he died, so his life ended way too soon too, and like Kim he had deserved many more years at the vise and on the water.
Now, I'm not dying,
but as some of you know, I have also had to limit my fishing considerably due to health reasons. Compared to “the old days” I hardly ever fish. In our fishing log, which has records back to 2003, I have some years where I fished 70-90 days. I went abroad to fish and whenever family, the weather and other circumstances permitted it, I would be on the coast fishing for sea trout.
Being hit by MS almost 10 years ago stopped that pretty abruptly. I have a hard time walking now, use a wheelchair, get tired really fast and have to consider all kinds of issues when I go - and do best with some help. My fishing days are more like 10 a year now, maybe even less if I count full days.
And just for the record: I was born in 1959, was diagnosed in 2007 and turn 58 the next time. I'm not young, but definitely not old either.
Back when we were young
neither Kim, Ken or myself had ever imagined that our fishing was to be reduced or stopped as brutally as has been the case. Or even considered the risk of not being able to go as we pleased in our mid-50's.
Like everybody else, we planned for the future: BC, New Zealand, Russia, the Caribbean. The whole world was out there just waiting to be fished. And our local waters didn't go anywhere. We could just go fishing whenever we wanted. They were just there! No reason to be hysterical about that. Once the kids moved from home, the workload was less, the money was better, the health was better, the weather was better... you know: all that stuff that keeps you from fishing today... once that was all better, we would go!
Except that we couldn't...
Because either we were dead or so severely ill that fishing wasn't an option anymore!
I did go as much as I could, and back in 2003 I even wrote "Life is short and I don't want to wait for my turn to live.". Wise words!
That's why you should go fishing.
I wish that I was in a situation where time or money was my only excuse not to go. And I'm sure Ken and Kim felt the same when they were here.
Drop all your puny and ridiculous excuses!
Work? Hah, take some days off!
Kids? Have someone look after them. Or bring them!
Girlfriend? Bring a blanket, some good food, gear to brew coffee and make it a picnic.
Money? If there's gas on the car, who needs money to go fishing?
Health? Back aching, knees squeaking, head tired? Talk to someone with bone cancer or MS and get things into perspective!
And then go fishing for crissake!