Fritz Hoffmeister and two halibut – Playa de Estero, Baja Norte, Mx
About this time every year, I like to retell a story about my best friend, Fritz.
It has been several years ago since he passed. But, like with all those we love who pass, it seems like just yesterday. He left, but not before he taught me one last lesson.
Fritz was a big, larger than life man who lived life to the fullest. I have often said, it is harder to find a good fishing buddy than it is, a good wife. And, Fritz was the best fishing buddy I ever had.
He was a man of many contradictions. He lived modestly, but was a millionaire. He was a tall Viking, but was the softest touch I ever met. He was the most successful contractor in our valley. He was a man’s man, and my friend.
Now, to the story. We were planning a fishing adventure down to Costa Rica. The motos were ready, the packing was done, and the dates were set. It was all we talked about for months. I poured over every route and studied all the possible tide charts and camping areas along the way.
I thought the day we would leave would never come. Finally, the day of our departure was near. I was so excited that my friends were tired of hearing about our plans.
But a few days before we were actually scheduled to head out, Fritz called me, and said he could not make it. He said that a job had come up that he could not pass up. I was livid and we argued. He said he had doubled his bid but still got the project. He paused and said, “Kenny. We can always go next year.”
I postponed Costa Rica and left on a long moto trip that stretched into months. We didn’t talk much during the time as I was traveling to the white spots on the map where there was no connectivity. I was unplugged. When I finally got back, there were several messages on the phone from Fritz’s daughter that said my friend was ill and I should come right away to see him.
Fritz had contracted cancer. What he had thought was a bad virus before I left had turned out to be lung cancer. Immediately, I went to see him.
He was frail and ill. He was weak and barely had the strength to speak above a whisper. We talked long into the evening. He weakly laughed, as we recalled all the adventures we had been on and all the great times we had had.
I looked around his richly appointed house where we had spent so many evenings planning our adventures and realized all his stuff and money did not really count for much, now. All we were talking about were the good times and adventures we had shared.
As though he had read my mind, he squeezed my hand firmly, eyes welling up, and said, “Kenny, we should have gone to Costa Rica.”
My friend, Fritz, died the next day.