A guy I knew and liked died last week. He was 66. He drowned. He was a fisherman. Fisherman equals drowning is an equation that is much too common on this coast – or any fishing coast for that matter. The medium in which you toil for a crust may ultimately take your life. I’ve known a number of fishermen in my life, and I’ve known a few that have drowned, or died of hypothermia, or some other related environmental onslaught.
It’s never an easy thing to hear of this.
There is a bit of a miracle in this story in that his life-partner and fellow fisher survived the ‘event’ that took place off the remote Haida Gwai (Queen Charlotte Islands) on the north coast of British Columbia. Going ashore in a skiff in relatively heavy seas, the skiff swamped. My friend sank beneath the waves. His partner said huddled on a remote and freezing beach for 6 days until she was rescued by the Coast Guard in a tale of serendipity that is a bit miraculous in its own right. I am happy for her survival and terribly sad for her loss.
Anyway, my friend who died was a good guy; a genuine guy; a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, if you will and to unavoidably lapse into cliché. Rough-hewn, honest, realistic and sometimes highly amusing as he chatted about the ironies of his life. Difficult to understand how he might have addressed his final irony.
And then he died, doing the job he ‘did’. I don’t know if he loved it. I never discussed that with him. But, that is what he did. Fishermen are like that. Regardless of the odds facing them in their task, they do what they do and rarely conceive of doing anything else. And the sea takes its toll. They all know that.
Since his untimely demise comments have come in from people that knew that man, and invariably “good guy” comes to the fore. This is one of those aspects of life that both perplexes and vexes me. I know people that are flaming shitheels but who never seem to be taken out. I am invariably nonplused when a good person is.
But, the universe is a morass of imponderables and there is no word in any holy or philosophical tome that encompasses the idea of fairness. For, it never is fair and there isn’t a thing we can do about it other than ‘accept’ – I guess.
Even when we don’t want to.