FISHING WITH THE "TEXAS ANGLER"
I received a call last week from an old friend that asked me to do a favor. "There is this 13-year-old boy that wants you to take him fishing. He is sick and if you'd take the time it would really make him feel better," he said. After learning a little of the boy's condition, I set up the trip for just a couple of days later.
We met in Kerrville. My fishing partner for the day was Jason Murski from Spring, Texas. It was cool that morning. I had a light jacket on while Jason wore several layers of clothes, a big floppy hat and was obviously cold. As we entered the cafe for breakfast, we were strangers. I noticed Jason limped badly.
Jason ordered a man-sized breakfast comparable to mine. He only ate a few bites. "I'm not hungry," he said. His father, James, was by our side and told me "everything's fine."
Jason was quiet at first as most strangers are to each other. But I tried to get him to open up. By the time we had finished breakfast, we had something going. After a short drive to the lake we launched the boat. "This is beautiful. Wow! Look at the water!" Jason said. He was excited.
The sun was warming up the cool morning in a hurry. I shed my jacket but Jason stayed bundled up. We caught a 7 pound bass, a 4 pounder and another about 3-1/2 pounds. My partner was now really loosening up and now was talking.
He told me about his family and friends. I heard about his favorite things in life, fishing and motor sports. He told me that he and his dad are building a go-cart. He has lots of girls as friends but doesn't have a "girlfriend." In only four hours I had learned a lot about Jason. He was a great partner, casting his baitcasting outfit, removing his own backlashes, tying on new lures and removing his own fish. The kid didn't need much help when it came to fishing.
I felt good. We were connecting. I could tell by the way he looked at me and smiled, by his voice and his openness in communicating. This boy was a lot like my son in may ways. We were having fun, even if the fish weren't biting that well.
It was now getting hot and Jason took off his cap and jacket. His young head was void of any hair. His complexion was pale and he was very thin. "I haven't been swimming since I got sick so I'm putting my life jacket back on. But I am a good swimmer," he said. I knew Jason was sick and I wanted to know more about his condition but didn't want to ask. We ate a sandwich and resumed fishing.
Then this frail boy spoke like a man, "You know I have cancer, bone cancer. I fell and broke my femur when I was twelve, then it broke again in my cast. The doctors should have found it earlier. Now I have scars all over. I'll show you later." I listened not knowing what to say. "You know what the worst part of having cancer is?" He asked. He kept talking. "It's not that I am going to die. We all have to do that. It's that they won't tell me the truth about my condition."
I was speechless. Then he told me, "I'm going to show those doctors. I am going to live a lot longer than they think."
The time went quickly and soon it was dark. Jason never missed a lick, never complained and never lost his determination to catch a fish. As we said our good-byes I had a lump in my throat. I hope Jason will prove the doctors wrong.
It's funny how complete strangers can go fishing and by the end of the day become friends. Yes, I helped Jason enjoy his day, but he also helped me realize that we should all be thankful just being able to fish.
When I got home it was late, the kids were asleep. As they slept I hugged each of them and thanked Jason. He helped me be a better father.
Keith Warren is the host of The Texas Angler Television Show along with
Hunting & Outdoor Adventures, both of which broadcast statewide. Catch
The Texas Angler from January through June, and Hunting & Outdoor
Adventures from July though December on FOX Sports Southwest Cable Network
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