Fishing was more than just a pastime for my Patrick. It was his way of recording time and events. I have several notebooks, his fishing journals, that meticulously document not only his successes and near misses, but those of his friends and family as well.
The writing is cramped and so very hard to read. But it is a gift to me and to Bea and to many others who are spoken of so fondly and lovingly in the many passages that span from 1995 until April 2019.
He had already obtained his fishing licence before he died almost three years ago now, and he had prepared his journal in this way:
- April 14- GET LICENCE AT CAN TIRE ($27.50)
- *SMELTS- ______________/TRIPS 1 *
- S. Salmon-___________/_____________________________
- Trout- _______________ / N. Trout _____________/
- Brownies/ /Stripers/
Pat’s method of organization made sense to him. He used the tally system so the lines and spaces, had he lived, would have been filled with his meticulous recordings to share with the proper officials at the end of the fishing season.
He continues to write on that same day, April 14th, 2019, that the water is cold and there are no fish. There are no smelts either. He had asked his brother Paul to come, but he had a cold. He also says that his sister-in-law Judy had good reports on her health, but that Judy’s sisters, sadly, did not.
And there is Pat, my beautiful, caring, kind Pat, the saint of our lives, recording the lives of others as he lives his own.
He also had a habit of using ALL capital letters in words that he wanted to emphasize. Thus when I read his work, I can hear his voice AND see that left hand racing across the page to get his thoughts down.
Much of Pat’s fishing experiences were spent with his brothers and father. He was always eager to fish with others however, and his journals are showered with people whom he has taken to, maybe not his favorite haunts (a fisherman does have his secrets) but to those areas where a friend or newbie would achieve success.
And sometimes his writing read like a Hemingway novel in its beautiful simplicity and present tense:
The beginning of the 2015 season for me, is non-existent. The late and heavy winter weather has left piles of snow everywhere. Rivers and lakes are still mostly snow and ice covered. This week the weather is due to be seasonal normal (8 degrees) or better. The maple syrup season is delayed by approximately 1 month so I expect any good fishing will be the same (`~ May 1st). We have seen geese and robins but there is a fear that birds will starve as bare ground (worms and grass) will not be around. Yesterday we had Paul and Judy over for a POST-Easter dinner.
And then… this description of his newly camouflaged fishing vest and its contents shows his adoring attention to detail and preparation when it came to fishing:
Dye my CRYSTAL RIVER VEST Green from TAN/WHITE- going to stop using my BAG (too small) and load the vest w TOOLS/TIPPETS/FLY BODIES/CAMERA/BEAR SPRAY/NET/NIPPERS/FLY FLOAT & LICENSE. (SAT/MAY28/17)
And of course, his memories, laughter, and humour shown for his brother, who was was always his first choice as a fishing partner were the best. I can remember listening in on countless hours of very animated phone conversations where they relived the great catches and those that got away- this after they had spent the whole morning afternoon or evening together!
Blessed? You bet!
One spring Patrick wanted to take part in a casting contest at the maritime sport show in Halifax. Weeks before the little competition, he practiced! During his lunch he would cast his rod in a large warehouse at his work. One day when he went out to practice, some of the fellas had placed cardboard fish on the floor for him to “Catch”. He thought that was so great, I remember.
And I remember Paul telling me how the crowd backed him during the competition, oohing and awing with his hits and misses. That’s our Pat, always drawing a crowd wherever he went, I remember Paul saying to me.
I seldom went fishing with Pat. It just wasn’t my thing. And besides, it was his time to unwind from the varied stresses of life.
But I do remember the sights and sounds of the prepping: the whine of the fishing line as yards and yards of it came out from the reel to detangle, or the smell of mothballs in the attic space where he tied his own flies, or the fast scribbling in his journal at night, to record the day’s events.
So so very blessed to know this man who would take the time to record such detail of life.
Recently my job has taken me to Bass River, once a week, to work with students and staff, a wonderful experience for which I am so very thankful. Very close to the school is a road that takes you to “Saints Rest”, one of Patrick’s very favorite bass fishing spots. On certain days it is a comfort to me to drive up the road, to its location and be with Pat. It is one of the places I feel the closest to him, especially when the water sparkles like diamonds.
Fishing was such a solace for Pat. And those journals he kept are a record of that solace. They are also a portal into the life of a man whom very few people really knew. I can tell you how kind and gentle he was, and many of you experienced that kindness. He was also so very quick and smart with his one liners and jokes.
He was so very bright and understood me to a “t”, and I miss him so very, very much.
He was also a beautiful writer.
And a sparkling diamond in our lives.
Our Saint Patrick.
Please join me in raising a glass to his memory today.