A few months after my husband, Burt, died last July, an old friend who had been widowed for several years said, “There will come a day, Bobbie, when you will begin to feel a new sense of freedom.” At the time those words were shocking, and I couldn’t imagine feeling anything but grief stricken for the rest of my life. Anything else felt somehow disloyal to my husband’s memory and the wonderful life we had together.
Now, during the past four weeks, I realize my friend was right. My steps are lighter. I’m smiling again, getting out, being with old friends, making new ones. I honestly feel Burt watching and saying, “You go, girl.” Maybe even Charley, from wherever old dogs go, is happy that I’m now able to “take off,” although I’m not sure where or when that will happen. But the fact I am only responsible now for my cat, Lap Sitter, must be the new-found freedom my widowed friend was talking about.
Today’s column was triggered by seeing a current commercial about the Sportsman Show going on in Portland. This flashed me back to the ’60s when I felt a new found freedom after finally extricating myself from an early and very painful marriage. My daughter, Rocki, was five years old, and we both still talk about the years we lived happily in a Santa Monica wreck of a rented beach house ($200 a month, such a deal). I worked in Beverly Hills, and she was a latch-key kid, which may have helped her learn to be the independent and self-sufficient woman she is today.
So what does this have to do with the Portland Sportsman Show? Hang on, you’re about to find out. Because in 1964 Rocki and I could do as we pleased (with no one yelling at us), I took her to the Sportsman Show in Los Angeles. In the middle of the large auditorium was a stocked pond full of trout, and kids could fish 20 minutes for 50 cents. While I watched Rocki casting her line out into the middle of the pond with a dozen other kids, I absently signed up for a free sports fishing trip.
Within 20 minutes, this little munchkin had caught three trout. On our way home, I stopped for gas, with Rocki sitting next to me proudly clutching her bag of fish. Not being thrilled about fish cleaning, I turned on the charm and asked the gas station guy if he would do it. “Lady,” he grumped, “I don’t clean no fish. This here’s a gas station!”
In case you’re wondering, back then in L.A. – just like Oregon – there were real live people who pumped your gas and cleaned your windshield. Just then, from behind a nearby pump, enjoying a cigarette, stepped this good-looking cop who asked the grumpy guy, “What’s the problem?” While Rocki watched with bug-eyed amazement, this nice policeman took out a knife, used the water hose and quickly cleaned all three trout. As we headed for home, I heard my daughter say, “Daddy says cops are no good. I think Daddy is wrong.”
Not only were those fish a great meal for us, but when the phone rang with the news we had won a sports fishing trip to Mexico, we couldn’t believe it. So, did we go? You bet. We drove down to San Diego, hopped on an 85-foot fishing boat, and joined about 20 other people who all knew the ropes about fishing for albacore tuna while we were clueless, but eager to learn.
Here’s the part I don’t like remembering, but wonder if Rocki does – or if she even remembers any of this story, which I had totally forgotten until now. We were given a delicious dinner and a bunk below decks. The skipper suggested we get some sleep while the boat chugged down to Mexican waters and everyone would be told when it was time to fish. At 4 a.m., there was the loud shout of “FISH UP!” and we raced to the upper deck, only to be hit with a big dose of seasickness. Eventually, after hanging over the rails barfing, we felt somewhat better. A very nice guy helped me start fishing while Rocki played cheerleader. Did I get lucky? Yes, and I don’t mean with that guy. We drove home with one very good size albacore tuna (cleaned by the skipper) and ended up with a BBQ feast in our front yard with the help of several friends.
I’m sort of tempted to go to the Sportsman Show in Portland, but they probably don’t have a tank full of trout, and I no longer have a 5-year-old, so I guess life will have to hand me new adventures.
I say bring it on!
Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her cat, Lap Sitter. Bobbie can be contacted at email@example.com
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