37: Jared’s Fishing Logs

37: Jared’s Fishing Logs

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries

Jared’s Fishing Logs

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.

~John F. Kennedy

It had been five days since our seventeen-year-old son, Jared, had been ejected from a crashing car and sustained a traumatic brain injury. He lay in a coma surrounded by whirring machines, wires, and worry.

My husband Rich, our older son Cole, and I kept watch at Jared’s bedside, praying of course, for a miracle. Doctors cautioned us not to research TBI on the Internet, explaining that the range of TBIs was enormous and we would just have to wait patiently to learn the extent of Jared’s injury. Still, nobody could promise that he would wake up, walk, or talk again.

It was early July and just a week before Jared had had an enviable summer ahead of him. A high school senior, he was looking forward to long, carefree days on the lake. He was a familiar fixture there, greeting every sunrise with a fishing pole in one hand and a tackle box in the other. We longed for a glimpse of that boy and logged into his computer, searching for his voice.

There we found his fishing logs.

The purpose of a fishing log is to save pertinent information that can be reviewed later to remember the what, when, where, why, and how of each fishing excursion. Jared’s logs featured meticulous detail about weather conditions, moon phase, water conditions, locations, lures and times. They were a testament to the hundreds of hours Jared spent out on his twelve-foot boat, and to his innate discipline and patience while waiting to make a catch.

Rich liked to say that fishing was in Jared’s blood; it’s what made him tick. The two of them had been fishing together since Jared was eight years old, either at the ninety-five acre lake down the street from our house, or out on the Cape Cod Canal.

Initially, reading his fishing logs made us cry. The thought that Jared might not fish again was gut wrenching. But we vowed to take one day at a time and took to reading excerpts of the logs out loud. We believed Jared could hear us and knew that nothing would be more interesting to him than accounts of his own fishing escapades.

Miraculously, Jared came out of the coma. His TBI was severe enough that he needed to re-learn the basic tasks of daily living and enter a long-term rehabilitation center.

Toward the end of his eighty-nine day stay in rehab, we were allowed to bring Jared home for daytime weekend visits. On the first of these visits I asked Jared, “If you could choose to do anything you wanted today, what would it be?”

Without hesitation, he answered, “Go fishing.”

So, off to the lake father and son went, just like old times. It wasn’t a movie ending—they didn’t come back with a catch for that night’s dinner—but they did come back triumphant. In Rich’s words, “I knew that day that fishing was the one thing in Jared’s life that remained true. The passion was still there, making him tick.”

It took enormous effort for Jared to concentrate on his return to fishing and sometimes it was exhausting. At the time, he wasn’t even thinking about his fishing logs. So Rich would come home and make notes about each trip—mainly, the what, when, where, why, and how of Jared’s progress. It became a way for Rich to participate in Jared’s rehab, making him, and us, feel a little less helpless.

Rich’s entry, on that first day back to the lake noted that it was a cold autumn day, the sun was shining and the New England foliage seemed extra bright. He explained that Jared struggled, that he couldn’t get his hands and fingers to do what he wanted, but he kept trying. Casting, reeling, over and over; he just wouldn’t give up.

Soon the fishing logs took on new meaning and became a source of comfort for all of us. Rich felt productive keeping a fishing journal for Jared, and Cole and I eagerly read each entry. Documenting Jared’s rehabilitation through the logs was therapeutic. Later, Jared would read his dad’s entries and marvel at the story of determination and progress they told.

As a result of his TBI, Jared suffers from short-term memory loss and has trouble organizing thoughts and processing verbal information. But he’s reached tremendous milestones thanks to a support system of family and friends, community, and dedicated professionals.

We think the real miracle is that Jared spent years honing his fishing logs, and it turned out to be the preparation he needed for dealing with his TBI. Today, Jared relies on checklists, mostly maintained on his iPhone, to get through each day. Checklists are critical to his success. They help him remember the what, when, where, why, and how. We have no doubt that Jared’s practice keeping detailed fishing logs before his accident is the reason he is so adept and comfortable with using checklists today.

There was a time when Jared’s fishing logs made us cry. Then they became a lifeline, linking us to his rehabilitation. Now we celebrate that Jared’s passion and instinct for creating a great fishing experience has come full circle.

~Janine L. Osburn

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners