Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

His hope for the holidays: one last fishing trip

Emory Solomon, 76, has been fishing for much of his life. In the Hillsborough River, in Lake Tarpon. Now in poor health and under hospice care, his holiday wish is to go fishing one last time before he dies. He says there are still fish to catch. His home is testament to his love of being on the water.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Emory Solomon, 76, has been fishing for much of his life. In the Hillsborough River, in Lake Tarpon. Now in poor health and under hospice care, his holiday wish is to go fishing one last time before he dies. He says there are still fish to catch. His home is testament to his love of being on the water.

EAST TAMPA

On most days in his first seven decades of life, Emory Solomon could only daydream about fishing.

There was always too much work to do.

When he was 7, he hoed the grass on the Georgia farm his parents worked as sharecroppers. He learned to plow with a mule, to harvest, to grow peanuts and okra. Never to read or write.

He moved to Tampa when he was 18, with a wife and two babies, because others said there was good work here.

He started at 80 cents an hour, watching experienced men build things. He painted houses, ground cement, laid blocks.

"You'd see a hole outside," Solomon said. "I'd fix that hole.

"I worked, I worked, I worked, I worked. Until I became better."

He worked until he was the masonry contractor, driving his own truck along West Tampa as men asked him for work.

He worked long hours, sometimes nights. He sacrificed time with his four daughters, but they got an education.

And he got to build.

"I miss that more than I do anything," Solomon said. "That's what I was, a builder, all types, stucco, stone. That's my life."

Then, about seven years ago, his lungs began to fail him. He could work no more.

Now at 76, he's a patient of LifePath Hospice, with cancer and less than a year to live. He still smokes.

"I still can't seem to get into my mind I cannot do the things that I used to do," Solomon said.

His niece, Jackie Jackson, sees it every day, when he wakes up at 6 a.m., as if he had a job, and looks out his front door. If he sees a work truck, he reminisces.

Then, he fixes his mind on his other passion:

Fishing.

It's a skill he learned like all the others, through observation, experience and patience. Every time he catches his favorite freshwater fish, the crappie, he feels like he's still earning something.

"Everybody can't catch a crappie," Solomon said. "He's got a big, hard rim right around the edge of the lip, and if you pull him too tight, he gone, cause he done tore his mouth up. You snatch him, he gone.

"Me, I just pull, easy."

He thinks about catching crappies every morning, as he sits on his bed and catalogs the dozens of fishing poles collected through the years. He'll take one down and tinker with it, and imagine sitting on the water, wondering what's below.

When he feels well enough, his niece takes him to a nearby river bank and watches him dip his hook. He does it for hours. He wants to, every day.

Solomon is proud of the life he has led. His greatest accomplishment, he said, is that he worked hard and never got into any trouble. His wife, who later divorced him, died last week.

His own thoughts on death:

"It don't bother me. Why should I worry about something I can't control?"

A hospice chaplain, in assessing his spiritual needs, asked Solomon if he had any unfinished business. Solomon's response:

There are still fish to catch.

He wishes for one last, great fishing trip on a beautiful day on Lake Tarpon, where he awaits the bite not on the banks, but on a boat, right over the water.

And the fish below are hungry.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3354.

>>About the series

Holiday Hopes

This is the first story in our four-part series profiling people in Hillsborough County who have a need or a wish this holiday season. We will update readers if and when wishes are granted.

The wish

To help grant Emory Solomon's wish for a last, great fishing trip on Lake Tarpon,

call Patty Klein at LifePath Hospice,

(813) 871-8417 or email her at kleinp@chaptershealth.org.

. About the series

Holiday Hopes

This is the first story in our four-part series profiling people in Hillsborough County who have a need or a wish this holiday season. We will update readers if and when wishes are granted.

The wish

To help grant Emory Solomon's wish for a last, great fishing trip on Lake Tarpon, call Patty Klein at LifePath Hospice, (813) 871-8417 or e-mail her at kleinp@chaptershealth.org.

His hope for the holidays: one last fishing trip 11/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 26, 2011 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of Virginia special agent

    Crime

    RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death.

    This image provided by the Virginia State Police shows law enforcement investigating the scene of a shooting early Saturday in Richmond, Va.   Special Agent Michael T. Walter, a Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death. Virginia State Police said in an emailed statement that Travis A. Ball of Richmond is being held without bond on charges that include malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. (Virginia State Police via AP)
  2. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally
  3. Forecast: Lots of sunshine, low humidity to start Memorial Day weekend

    Weather

    The start of your long Memorial Day weekend is all sunshine this Saturday, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Rick Kearbey.

    WTSP seven-day forecast on May 27, 2017.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  5. Global computer outage grounds British flights

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports Saturday as a global IT failure caused severe disruption for travelers on a busy holiday weekend.

    British Airways planes are parked at Heathrow Airport in January. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)