Ralph’s Fishing Trip–Not


You know how holidays and vacations that go wrong—when the hurricane knocks out the electricity, when the turkey falls on the floor and the dog eats it, when the fist fight breaks out during the wedding toasts—are the ones you remember. Well I won’t be forgetting last week’s vacation in Florida any time soon.

It turns out my panic attack the first night, the one about forgetting Ralph’s meds, was actually my intuition warning that the next five days were going to be rough-going.

The trip was not terrible in any dramatic way. (Well, except for being scammed over the phone by someone claiming to be a sheriff’s deputy who said I was going to be arrested for failure to appear for jury duty and contempt of court. This was the morning after the panic attack so I was exhausted and not thinking clearly. I was also alone with Ralph and without a car. I quizzed the supposed deputy and his sergeant who sounded scarily authentic, then used Ralph’s cell to call the number they were calling from. Of course it came up Sheriff’s office. I missed all the now obvious cues of scam—FYI, missing jury duty is not a felony and neither is contempt of court, the Sheriff’s office doesn’t call to say it is about to issue a warrant and doesn’t take a Paypal cash card payment over the phone. As soon as I gave the Paypal number to the “deputy” I realized I’d been scammed. By then my neighbor saw me walking in the 90 degree heat and picked me up. I was mortified.)

And not really “terrible” at all, because “terrible” implies extreme. More like aggravating: There were the fleas that lingered after repeated bombings. There was the rain, which kept five of us trapped and bickering in a small garage apartment for two days.

And definitely intense: There was the family health report my daughter was writing up for a course she is taking. As she asked question after question, with her 12-year-old step-daughter sitting beside us in fascinated attention much of the time, a clearer picture than either of us expected began to emerge of Ralph and my life as it was and as it is becoming. Some questions prodded me to re-examine old issues, some gave a fresh perspective. I didn’t know whether to smile or cry when she jotted down, Alice and Ralph are coping well with their changed circumstances.

It was an exhausting experience over hours of conversation, but it also created a new intimacy and honesty in my relationship with my daughter that is a gift beyond value.


Above all, there was the Fishing. Or rather the Not Fishing.

Fishing has been Ralph’s passion for years. And before fishing, he was passionate about sailing. He likes to quote an old Pogo cartoon. “It’s all about the boating.” Ralph likes to catch fish but what he has always really loved is being on the water, sitting in a boat up some creek joshing with his fishing pals waiting for fish to bite or not bite. He loves the soggy lunches they eat, the teasing back and forth, the crises with motors that won’t start, and of course he loves the excitement when they land the occasional big one they land, or almost land. Since the boat in Florida belongs to him, he is officially Captain while his best fishing buddy over the last fifteen years, also named Ralph, has always been first mate.

In February, less than six months ago, Ralph and I met Ralph#2 and his wife C. for a wonderful fishing weekend. C. and I hung out in funky-artsy Apalachicola with its good restaurants and shops (shout out to DowntownBooks ) while the guys fished.

Last month Ralph and Ralph#2 planned another fishing trip that Ralph#2 had to cancel at the last minute.

So this trip, combining family and fishing has been much anticipated. Ralph #2 rented a house nearby with his extended family including several fishing sons and grandsons for a week. And we were staying in our place with my daughter and son-in-law BoyScout, who is even more passionate about fishing than the two Ralphs.

By the time we arrived, not only had BoyScout taken care of the flea problem but had the boat ready when we arrived. The next morning was gray and rainy so Ralph bowed out on the fishing. Boy Scout went out with Ralph#2 and his son and grandson instead. The next morning, it poured so nobody fished. Day four was gorgeous, but Ralph (my Ralph) said it was too hot and stayed home. Ditto the next day.

Even when BoyScout suggested a short sunset boat ride for the family Ralph declined.

Ralph’s non-fishing was the shocking undercurrent that noone said aloud but everyone was noticing and that made this five day “vacation” a watershed moment of realization:

The man who never saw a boat he didn’t want to sail or fish from or tinker with, the man who has dragged me out on the water in all kinds of miserable weather, did not go near his boat the whole time we were there. And not for lack of all of us trying to drum up his enthusiasm.

“I’ve done it before,”he shrugged every time.

The question is, will he ever do it again?


6 thoughts on “Ralph’s Fishing Trip–Not

  1. I thought all the scams out there had been tried on me — several times each, but the one you describe is a new one. I suppose since it was successful I’ll be hearing that one soon, too. Regret you got hooked — pardon the fishing pun. I figure if they start of threatening and/or ask for money it’s a scam whatever they say. I usually can peg them by their opening pitch in the first sentence or two and simply hang up on them which is best rather than talking with them. I’ve had calls with a live person speaking and others have left recorded message follow-ups trying to scare me, I guess.

    Your not fishing trip would be memorable for several reasons I can understand, so appreciate it would have been difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks and love the pun. I think he got mw at a vulnerable moment and was successful at pressing my fear of authority figure button by saying he was the from the sheriff’s office…the reason I didn’t hang up when I should have.


  2. Sorry it wasn’t a great vacation (ooh, get me speaking American!). Achieving a more intimate and honest relationship with your daughter is a big bonus, though.
    Ralph’s “I’ve done it before” comment reminds me of dad when he began to lose interest in things he had always loved doing. For years he was the steward for the Clydesdale horses at the local agricultural show and even when he gave it up he still went to the show for a few years then we’d hear, “I’ve seen plenty of shows.” For years he played golf several times a week then he stopped. At first he said it was because of the weather but when it got to summer he still didn’t play – “I’ve played golf often enough.” I don’t know what caused the loss of interest. Not reading any more I could understand – he couldn’t remember the sentence he’d just read but would he forget how to swing a golf club?
    I hope Ralph might decide he wants to go out on a boat again, even if he doesn’t actually fish.
    And I hope you got rid of the fleas – made me itch reading your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mary. It is so cool to think that your father was the steward for the Clydesdales. I love picturing him in that role. That loss of interest is a component of Alzheimer’s that I wasn’t as prepared for as for memory loss. I can’t tell if Ralph minds that he has less interest or not.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I prefer to think that they forget what they enjoyed, but the sense of pleasure remains. I don’t know. At the moment Ralph’s sense of enjoyment is triggered much more easily, just not by activities that offer any challenge–although he still remembers having enjoyed them. As I wrote that sentence I suddenly realized that my fear now is what happens if/when his enjoyment in present moments fades.

        Liked by 1 person

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