There was a ten minute break in my Sociology Class, enough time to check my email and see some very distressing news about my beloved mentor and friend.
Darlene came into my life a little over five years ago when I began to fly fish. I remember walking into the Caddis Fly Shop and learning about this women’s fly fishing club that met the first Thursday of each month called the Damsel Flies. Not knowing what to expect and coming into this arena totally blind, I was swept up as if I was a long time friend and fellow fly-fisher by Darlene who was the member representative at that time.
She has a smile that lights a room, a laugh that makes you laugh and the sort of holler that you don’t normally hear from a lady when she has a fish on the end of her line. Her enthusiasm for life and fly fishing was so very contagious. She had me within the first 30 minutes of class and well the rest is sort of history. I went on many outings with her, but the most memorable was my very first fly fishing outing at the Metolius River. It was open to the whole group, but only three of us attended Joan, Darlene and I.
This was the first official outing I had ever attended as a single, newbie fly fishing gal. Well Darlene swooped me up and told me everything I could want to know about men, life, marriages and of course fly fishing. The next day out on the river, she was never far from my side. Instead of really hitting the water hard, she took the time to show me how to read the water, how to wade safely with a staff and what to look for on the water. It was mostly foreign to me what she was saying, but she didn’t give up helping me out the entire day. Not really taking much time to cast her own line out. Truly always a giver and that wasn’t only the sentiment from me, you could ask anyone at any fly shop, or any guide in town and they would tell you how amazing of a person she was.
The last time I saw her was about six weeks ago at a Damsel fly meeting. Roles seemed to be a little reversed, because I was on the speaking end and she was on the audience end. We had a lesson on rod building and I was asked to say a few words about it.
She was diagnosed two years ago with lung cancer and went through very aggressive treatment that caused it to lay at bay. Soon after the news of her treatment working her dear husband Lloyd passed away, which was a true heartbreak. But in usual Darlene fashion, she was positive, upbeat and didn’t want to talk about her, she wanted to know about you. Her questions to me, how much have you been fishing? where did you go last? when are you going next?
So tonight, I get an email from Joan addressed to the entire Damsel fly group about Darlene’s condition. She was admitted into the hospital last Thursday as she was feeling very weak. They found that her lung cancer has come back more aggressively and now she has brain cancer as well. She has opted for no treatment and will be going home with hospice in the next few days. Even as I write this, I am so heavy-hearted and wish that there is not some way I can send her some good cheer or love as she often did for me in my tough times.
She will never be forgotten to me. She was and will always be my mentor, my friend, a Damsel and a Saint.