Fisherman’s wish to fish fulfilled

Last week, I wrote a story about a 91-year-old man dying from heart disease.

John Russell is a lifelong fisherman who hadn’t been on the water in three years. He ached to fish again.

So a couple nurses from Hospice Southwest called in a few favors and arranged a fishing trip for John.

Here’s a photo nurse Denise Hood sent me after the trip:


When I first heard about the trip, I knew I had to meet John; I had to write his story.

Nearly two years ago, my grandfather died of throat cancer. He was an avid fisherman. He talked, walked, breathed fishing.

I have many fond memories of my grandpa and our fishing trips to Long Beach. He loved ocean fishing as opposed to fresh-water fishing, just like John.

My grandpa wore quirky T-shirts with pictures of hooks and fishing line with slogans about fishing. John wore a shirt that said “To fish or not to fish, what a stupid question” when he went on his trip last week.

My grandpa could recite the tide schedule from memory, read the daily salmon count numbers and knew the best times and places to find each type of fish. John is just as knowledgeable.

My grandpa would spend hours catching, cleaning and packaging his catch, just to give it away to his family. John always canned fish and gave it to his kids.

I teared up as I watched John wave goodbye to his wife, Millie, as we stood on the dock at the Port of Camas-Washougal. To me, it was as if I was watching my sick grandfather get to go on one last fishing trip.

My grandfather would have loved to cast a fishing line one last time before he died, just like John.

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