The Longest Day is an event to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. This unique event is held annually, on or near, the summer solstice. The longest day of the year was chosen to honor those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, for whom every day is the longest day. This past year I fished all day on The Longest Day in celebration of my Grandpa Harry who battled Alzheimer’s during the last years of his life. Fishing is something he taught me and an activity I enjoyed sharing with him. This is my exact replica of the events with complete precision. I’d tell you to close your eyes so you can feel like you were there, but it might be tough to continue reading…
11:26 AM – You finally depart for the lake. Behind schedule as usual.
11:32 AM – The cat is moved to the back seat as he clearly can’t handle riding in the front. Meowing subsides.
1:33 PM – You arrive at your aunt and uncle’s house to pick up the fishing boat that you will spend almost 12 hours in the next day.
1:37 PM – You now have the notes app up on your phone as you try to make sure you can handle getting this thing started at 5:00 AM the next day.
2:02 PM – Before pulling out of the driveway, you take a quick glance at the notes and wonder how all of that info could have ended up in only 3 lines of notes. The cat is meowing again.
2:59 PM – You pull the boat around the driveway and unload the car. The cat makes it inside safe and sound.
3:32 PM – You open the shed doors and examine the fishing poles that have not been in the water since you don’t know when…
3:43 PM – That didn’t take long as you sit tangled in a mess of string with poles strewn throughout the shed and hooks everywhere.
6:23 PM – Some clarity has finally emerged as you have borrowed 6 poles from the neighbors and against all odds gotten 6 of your own to a manageable level. Your phone is at 3%. You call your parents to ask them to bring your phone charger when they head up.
7:18 PM – You depart for town with the car (mostly) packed and ready for tomorrow. Your stomach is growling.
8:51 PM – You arrive back at the house after picking up night-crawlers and hooks, and also rewarding yourself with a trip to the best Chinese Buffet.
10:03 PM – Phone at 0%. You plant a note on the door imploring your family to wake you up when they get in so you can plug in your phone.
THE LONGEST DAY
1:10 AM – You hear the family arriving and wake up to get your phone plugged in.
3:50 AM – You snooze the first alarm.
4:00 AM – You snooze the second alarm.
4:13 AM – You pull yourself together enough to send a snapchat as you head down the stairs.
4:53 AM – Headed for the lake with fishing boat in tow.
5:21 AM – Fearing by the time you back the boat down, park the car, and walk back you won’t have a line in before sunrise, so you toss one in from the shore with Grandpa’s old rod and reel.
6:23 AM – The first fish is on the hook and pulled in. This guarantees at least $10 will be raised to #ENDALZ on this day.
8:03 AM – Now 4 in and they may have weighed less than a pound together…but it doesn’t matter on this day as that means $40 for Alzheimer’s.
9:52 AM – Your dad finally gets on the board with his first fish.
11:23 AM – Something in the water as he catches 4 more in a row. You grab 3 in a row in the new spot.
11:30 AM – The streak is cut short as you head to shore for a restroom/lunch break. You put some sunscreen on…although it is far too late at this point and you will certainly pay for it tomorrow.
12:05 PM – Your lunchtime lead of 7-5 felt like it was going to be much bigger…still happy with $70 raised on the morning.
12:48 PM – You find yourself eating some delicious catfish from Mark Twain Lake…unfortunately not the ones you caught that morning.
1:23 PM – Everyone tosses in a line at the same time for Grandpa Harry. Untangling those extra poles for hours the night before suddenly becomes well worth it.
1:45 PM – You head back out on the water, now fitting 3 in the boat with your brother included for the afternoon session.
4:13 PM – Lighting spotted, so you meet back on shore and say goodbyes to those with long drives home.
4:57 PM – You pull the boat back onto the same trailer at the same ramp you backed down almost 12 hours ago.
6:13 PM – After a few more goodbyes and a drive back to the lake house, you find yourself back at it on the pond with just a couple hours left and 8 fish caught.
7:30 PM – Your hopes for a strong finish diminish as the biggest one you will have on the hook all day manages to break the line.
8:25 PM – You head to the other side of the pond to finish up with your dad and brother.
8:34 PM – Improbably, on what would be your final cast of the day, you reel one in and thank Grandpa for that last $10.
8:37 PM – The end of the sunlight portion of the day.
10:03 PM – After getting things packed up and taking a much needed shower, you get ready to hit the road…only to find a flat tire on the boat trailer.
10:37 PM – Now soaking in sweat and officially regretting taking the shower, the trailer and boat are on a block and you are in the car headed to drop off the tire at Walmart before the 2 hour drive to St. Louis.
12:11 AM – Your dad wishes you a happy birthday and you know the day you just had is far more important than your 26th birthday.
1:02 AM – 21+ hours after your alarm went off, you hit the bed. Tired, yes. Fulfilled, definitely.
The Longest Day symbolizes the challenging journey of those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. My Longest Day was also a celebration of my Grandpa’s life. Doing something he loved to do. It was a celebration of the special impact he had on others. Doing something that he taught many of his grandchildren how to do. It was a celebration of the connections he made. Doing something with my Dad and brother that connected us all back to a Dad and Grandpa we loved. It was a celebration of his entire family. Doing something he enjoyed greatly by gathering for a family reunion. My Longest Day likely looks nothing like your Longest Day. You don’t have to catch 9 fish. Do something meaningful to you. Celebrate a loved one, celebrate a friend, celebrate you. Do something to MAKE AN IMPACT. At the end of your journey, whether it is through The Longest Day or through another avenue, I can guarantee you will be tired. I can also guarantee one other thing. You will be fulfilled.