Fish Story

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“I can’t wait to get to the lake,” I said to Dad last Thursday.

“I can’t, either,” he responded. “I’m going to get the ugliest worms I can find.” Here he paused, and his face broke into a huge grin. “I brought two fishin’ poles,” he continued as his grin grew wider and a twinkle appeared in his eyes.


My parents had driven in from South Carolina to be here for their great-granddaughter’s bat mitzvah on Saturday. (It went well and, best of all, it’s over!) When I called Dad on his 83rd birthday, he was bemoaning the fact that, because of a decreased ability to get around, he couldn’t go fishing anymore. I told him I’d take him fishing at a private lake not too far from my house that has lakeside cabins for rent.

Now, I don’t like to fish and Dad knows that. I’ve never liked to fish and, after listening to me whine and moan on family fishing trips as I was growing up, he gave in and let me stay with my grandparents. It was a good deal. While my parents bored themselves silly sitting by some body of water, baking in the sun and getting mosquito bites, I was having a great time getting spoiled.

Furthermore, I don’t like to touch fish—much less worms. I do like to eat fish, but only if a chef prepares it and a server delivers it to me on a nicely arranged plate. So the thought of somebody expecting me to actually touch fish—and worms—and maybe even cook the darned things is not appealing to me. And nothing can make me clean them!

It is, in fact, a measure of my great love for my husband that, once in a blue moon, I will drag out his mother’s recipe and make him his favorite fish dish, which involves cooking fish in a pickling solution, heads and all. I not only have to touch fish, but the smell of fish mixed with vinegar, pickling spices, and such…stinks. Literally.

What I plan to do is just wave dad off and stick my nose back into my book. However, if he insists, I suppose I’ll just suck it up, put a worm on a hook, and hope the worm merely drowns instead of becoming what some hapless fish thought of as dinner.

After all, I’ve done plenty of things I never thought I’d do. Like check my blood glucose, for example.

Back in the day, when my doctor told me I needed to check my blood glucose, it wasn’t something that was appealing to me. She gave me no further instructions: no recommendation on what meter to buy. No instructions on how to check my blood glucose levels. No recommendation on when to check, what numbers to shoot for…nothing.

A friend of mine who has diabetes went to the pharmacy with me to buy a meter. Package in hand, I went home, sat it down, and there it stayed. Days went by. Every time I thought about actually sticking my finger, I kind of shuddered and put it off.

Some time later, when my husband was away for a few days, I got up the nerve to open the box. There was a videotape in there with instructions on how to use the Boehringer-Mannheim (now Roche) Tracer II. It was a meter where you dropped blood onto a strip, waited for one minute, wiped off the blood, put the strip into the meter and waited another minute for the results. I watched the video, following along and—at long last—did my first blood glucose check. After a while, it wasn’t a big deal at all.

I still didn’t know when I was supposed to check, what numbers to strive for, or even how to write the numbers down in a meaningful and helpful way, but that came with time and help from friends and a diabetes educator.

It’s now Sunday and, as soon as I throw some things into a bag and gather up some food and the requisite fishing-trip beer, Dad and I are off to the lake for a couple of days. It will be a good father–daughter bonding time. Maybe he’ll tell me more about him and his family, now that I’m old enough to recognize the value in knowing about family history. He’s already said he wants to talk to me about diabetes control, since he also has Type 2. Maybe I will even bait a hook and catch a fish.

But, unlike checking my blood glucose, I don’t intend to fish often enough to get used to it.

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