Little Red Rented Row Boat

“Have you ever taken a sunrise cruise on Chip’s Ahoy?”
“Let’s do that next Saturday. I’ll come up. I’m on-call, anyway.”
“Okay. That sounds like fun!”
“Wait. Sunday is Mom’s birthday. I have a better idea.”

When I was young, Mom became a commercial fisherman to help support her 6 kids after our dad passed away. I believe she was the first female commercial fisherman in Michigan. Every single day at sunrise and sunset Mom & my oldest sisters would go out on the lake in a 14′ boat to pull & set nets. I was way too young to be helpful.

Shoveling Seaweed

Me, 3 years old, trying to help clean a boat full of seaweed.

Random Note: I never did like wearing clothes. I wonder at what point Mom just gave up trying. I mean… clearly it was cool enough for me to need long sleeves, but pants? Forget about it.

To celebrate Mom’s birthday, my siblings and I went on what was supposed to be a sunrise cruise on my brother’s boat. I say “supposed to be” because in true Jessie’s Kids fashion, we were late. Note I said “we” as in more than “me”. Indian Time or whatever.

I was late because I’m on call and would naturally get paged when I make plans. My hour drive to my sister’s house was gorgeous. It was dawn about the time we were originally supposed to meet. I was fortunate enough to catch glimpses of the lake from the road. The view was incredible… full of red, orange, purple and blank. It’s unfortunate I didn’t have time to stop to take a picture. Even more unfortunate that fog started rolling in just before I got to my sister’s house and the brilliant sky disappeared. We went out anyway.


It was so cold out on that water. See the fog out there?

Annnnd, it was windy so the lake was really choppy. My sister Bonnie & I were sitting at the bow of the boat. My brother kept us at a pretty slow speed but at one point we hit a decent swell. A bunch of water came in the boat soaking me, my sister and my beautiful Pendleton blanket. We screamed and laughed then I said (only half joking) in my best youngest sibling voice, “I don’t wanna do this any.more!” My brother suggested that we move to the back of the boat. I followed Bonnie but, of course, we hit another swell and more water came in the boat, soaking me from the waist down.


After a few minutes rocking away a short distance from the harbor, my brother thought it would be better if we went back into the harbor where the water was calm to enjoy our breakfast. We chilled there for a bit (literally)… eating, laughing, and taking pictures while the older girls told stories about fishing with Mom.  I couldn’t contribute much other than laughing about my soaked buns so I had fun listening, laughing, and watching for fish to jump out of the water so I could yell, “FISHIE!”

It was cold and windy. We didn’t get to see the sunrise. We didn’t have the peaceful moment I imagined to celebrate her memory. However, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect morning. My favorite sound in the world is the 6 of us to laughing together. We might drive each other completely bonkers sometimes but the love we have for each other is unbreakable.

Jessie's Kids

Jessie’s Kids

And, of course, a series of stories about Mom wouldn’t be complete if one didn’t involve her singing or dancing. Apparently this was her song of choice to torture my older siblings with sing while out they were out on the bay.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

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2 Responses to Little Red Rented Row Boat

  1. Jeanne says:

    Even though it was cold and cloudy and the lake was choppy, I’m glad we did it! :-)

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