I’m melancholy tonight. “Deadliest Catch” is waiting for me on the DVR, yet I can’t seem to watch it. I won’t be able to until tomorrow night now, as it’s going to be too much for my kids. The Dudeling likes the show about the boats, and The Munchie is pretty darned sensitive. In this case, I’ve gotten to be pretty sensitive.
Captain Phil Harris of the F/V Cornelia Marie became my favorite rather quickly. His rough, bristly exterior belied the depth of character beneath. Cliché, maybe, but true. For every bleeped word, his eyes told a deeper story, a story of pain, pride, and love for those he called family. For me, his spirit was epitomized the moment he learned that his son, Jake Harris, had a drug addiction.
Anyone who follows the show knows that Jake has been stubborn, outspoken, ambitious, and, well, a bit lazy. He and another Jake in the fleet (Jake Anderson of the F/V Northwestern) played boat swap for a while to help them learn their places. Upon his return, Capt. Phil was thrilled to see him. It didn’t take long until it was back to normal with Jake fighting with his brother Josh. It seemed like nothing was going to change.
Then Phil caught Jake stealing pills. The ensuing argument was ugly, uncomfortable to watch. Phil told Jake he never wanted to see him again. The rant ended when Jake leaned over and said, “I’m an addict.”
Earlier in the season, Phil told the camera he knew he wouldn’t be around a long time, that he’d done every drug known to mankind, that it caught up to him. He smoked at least nine packs of cigarettes a day and was lucky to have survived a pulmonary embolism two years ago. So when Jake let go of his secret, you could see the pain in Phil’s eyes. The memories. The man who, only moments earlier, had swore he never wanted to see his son again, told Jake, “I’ll go with you” to rehab. He was the dad again, one who wanted to make it right for his kid.
Real life drama. This time, the drama matters. Sure, fans of the show are grieving Phil’s passing. Sure, the producers edited hours of video to show things how they wanted. Sure, there’s a lot that we didn’t see. But what sets this show apart is the no-holds-barred rawness of real life. These people may live an extraordinary way of life, but they are still just like us. They are parents and kids, brothers and friends. They reflect the workings of our lives and relationships.
“Deadliest Catch” got to me this season. No doubt about it. But you know what? Sometimes, a punch in the emotional gut is just what we need.
Remember to appreciate the people who matter to you. Let them know how much they mean to you. You never know what the next day brings. You never know.