Dave had been in the Palliative Care Unit at Northumberland Hills Hospital for more than four weeks this time, his third time in the unit. Nurses asked Joan, “How is he hanging on?” Joan pondered on it and came up with a reason she wouldn’t put past her stubborn husband. “He probably wants to go fishing one more time!”
So began the preparations for Dave’s final trip to a favourite fishing spot. Joan decided to take Dave to the “Ganny” [the Ganaraska River] but had trouble working out the details. She tried to organize the loan of a wheelchair van but that didn’t work out. She also didn’t know how she’d get Dave in and out of a vehicle, and other “what-ifs” contributed to her anxiety.
Joan had met Hospice Northumberland’s Client Care Coordinator, Libby, a couple of times when visiting Dave in the palliative care unit so she called Hospice to ask for help. Libby quickly got the trip organized and recruited a recently graduated volunteer to come along.
When they finally reached Sylvan Glen, Dave was helped out of the van and into his wheelchair. There he was greeted by Joan’s parents and her sister, and his old fishing pal, Joe. Fishing had been an important part of Dave’s life. He began fly-fishing with Joan’s father who was involved with the International Fly Fishing Federation.
On a beautiful May day, Dave was very happy to go fishing for the last time. He and Joe talked about old times and favourite fishing spots. Everybody present that day will never forget it. This was the first experience for the new Hospice volunteer. He said it was “an amazing experience knowing you were a part of helping somebody with their last wish.” Sylvan Glen has become a special place to this volunteer, where he now goes when he needs time alone.
Dave died 12 days later. In October at the second Canadian National Fly Fishing Championship in Quebec, Joan presented the “Top Rod” award to the fisher who took first place. The trophy was made with donations in Dave’s name and it is named after him – a fitting legacy to a man who loved fishing.