I had never seen Lindsay cry like this before. There were the occasion tears from watching a good movie. And sometimes as an imperfect husband, I may have said or done something that drew a tear or two from time to time.
But this was different.
I had never seen this side of my precious bride before.
We were in Custer State Park in South Dakota, having just started our seasonal jobs at one of the lodges in the park. Lindsay was on an unscheduled break from managing the front desk and I was making the rounds as the assistant general manager.
The lodge had an employee dining room, the only place I had not thought to find her, and when I turned the corner into this room my heart fell apart to see Lindsay sitting at a table on the phone, tears pouring down her face.
I couldn’t place the context of the call by observing her expressions. I just knew that it was bad, and I made a mental list of anything that could possibly be so terrible as to force her into tears like this.
We didn’t have a lot, and we had been living in an RV for quite a while, so most of what was important to us was just a short walk away from the lodge tucked away in some part of our motorhome.
But not everything was there with us. At least not yet.
When Lindsay muted the call, which had come from her aunt, she hit me with the news I never thought I’d hear.
Her father had passed away unexpectedly, alone and his body had just been found on the couch in his apartment. There was no drama. He was not clutching a cell phone or photo or phone book. He had fallen asleep on the couch and had not awakened.
Jim was too young to pass away like this. But it happened. And his passing tore Lindsay’s precious heart to pieces. It still does, which is why we are attempting to head off into this grand adventure to memorialize her father, help her find healing and provide what we hope will be a source of inspiration and encouragement to others who may have experienced a similar situation in their lives.
Jim had called Lindsay just a few weeks before his passing. We were busy and Lindsay didn’t pick up the phone. So he left her a voicemail, the last time she would ever hear his voice.
Because he passed so unexpectedly, and because we were rooted in South Dakota, it was difficult to determine how best to honor Jim’s passing. Lindsay flew to Florida to take care of his estate, which was little more than a one-bedroom apartment with an eclectic collection of items spread throughout and an old car that worked intermittently.
We tried to determine whether to bury his body or to cremate it. Because he died without a will, and without ever having that conversation with Lindsay, we made the difficult choice to cremate his remains to bring along with us wherever we went.
It was too challenging to arrange a memorial service of any kind. His family was scattered around the US and we didn’t know how to contact any of his friends outside of his neighbors in the apartment complex. Like many people in life these days, Jim was just doing what he could to get by – nothing more, nothing less.
Now his remains travel with us wherever we go. After an unsuccessful fishing trip in Baja California, where Lindsay hoped to spread his ashes with the release of a marlin she and her father had hoped to catch one day, the idea came to her that the best way to honor her father and the influence he had on her life was to take him fishing in all 50 US states, to catch a fish and release it along with some of his ashes.
Lindsay and her father had always road-tripped and fished together. This would be the ultimate way for her to say goodbye to her father. And, in doing so, she wants to use the opportunity to help others understand the importance of loved ones and the value of “picking up the phone” to reconnect with those with whom we may have lost touch with.
This is a story that needs to be told. It’s one that we know will move thousands, if not millions, of people toward healing, reconciliation and the chance to live a life free of regret.
Lindsay cannot do this on her own. So we invite you into this adventure and hope that your support will allow Lindsay to say farewell to her father in the only way she knows how.
This is Lindsay’s story of grieving the loss of her father as she attempts to catch a fish in all fifty states and release it, along with part of her father’s ashes.
Join us as we wander across America learning how to grieve the loss of a loved one while encouraging others to “pick up the phone” to connect or reconnect with those people who mean the most in our lives.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!