Twenty one years ago due to a medical procedure my father fell into a coma. After a week he revived but no longer had a zest for live. Some of the things he had always done he could no longer do. He and my mother used to fish a lot. Suddenly he no longer wanted to go. Backing a boat trailer became an almost impossible task. But rather than admit he had problems he just gave up fishing.
For the next year it seemed as if every conversation with him contained a reference to death or dying. I knew that if he didn't get excited about life again that he wouldn't be around much longer. While he had given up hunting several years earlier, he and my mother would come to my house each November during the hunting season. They liked being here to listen to our stories and would help butcher our deer.
One day prior to their returning home I showed him a picture of a pontoon boat and told him of my intent to purchase it and keep it in a marina located about 5 miles from their home. Initially he didn't want me to spend the money but finally said it probably would make fishing much easier for my mother. I told him that in March we would go to the BassPro store in Springfield Missouri and purchase one on a good road worthy trailer. By picking it up there the savings in shipping costs to Kentucky would more than pay for the trailer.
While he feigned indifference about the boat, my mother informed me that every few days from November til January he would have the brochure out looking at it. Finally in January he called and ask if there was any chance of picking the boat up sooner as the fishing started getting good in February. I had just retired the previous December so there was nothing to prevent my getting it earlier.
I immediately called Basspro and ordered a pontoon boat specifically set up for fishing and two weeks later I headed south. I picked my parents up in Kentucky and then on we went for Missouri. An aunt and uncle lived on a lake just north of Springfield so we went to their house to stay for a couple of days. We picked up the boat, went back to the aunt and uncle's and took the boat for a test run in the lake they lived on.
When we got back to Kentucky there were still a few things I needed to do to the boat to make it as easy as possible for them. Items like sonar, electric anchor winches, rod holders, and battery chargers had to be added. I then took it to the marina where it was placed in a covered slip that allowed easy access from the harbor to the main lake.
For the next 12 weeks my Dad and I went fishing every day and it was truly one of the most enjoyable periods in my life. More importantly my father was excited about life again. Each fall I would go to Kentucky and pull the boat out and winterize it and then the following February I'd go down and put it back in the water.
When I gave my Dad the keys I told him he should try to use it enough to wear all the aluminum off the bottom and use it they did. Some days they'd get up early, fish for several hours, come home for lunch and to do what needed to be done around the house and head back out. This went on for seven years. Finally the last time I went to take it out he informed me that he was concerned about what my mother would do if something should happen to him while on the water. That perhaps it would be best if they no longer used it.
When we went to take the boat out of the water and he was negotiating through the marina I realized he could no longer handle the boat safely. When we go the the launch I got out on the dock, got the truck and backed the trailer into the water intending to go get in the boat and drive it on to the trailer. Much to my horror my Dad, who had never loaded the boat, was trying to do just that. In short order he had the boat on the trailer. The only problem was that only one half of the boat was on. With a chagrined look on his face he told me I guess you'd better do it.
After freeing the boat from the trailer I circled around in the lake and as I approached the trailer knowing it was going to load without a hitch, I let go of the helm allowing the wind to pull us to one side. Circling back for another attempt I again gave the helm to the wind. Finally I brought the boat in and with feigned difficulty managed to get it on the trailer.
That night at supper Granny inquired as to how it had gone. Dad proceeds to tell her that he had tried to load the boat but the wind was so bad that Sam had a hard time. I guess what I am saying is that when our parents have to give up something, we need to make sure that their dignity isn't included.