93-year-old man's birthday wish of swimming in the ocean for the first time comes true

Courtesy: Sandra Fisher van Nostrand, CBS News
Courtesy: Sandra Fisher van Nostrand, CBS News(WCTV)
Published: Oct. 3, 2019 at 5:05 PM EDT
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October 3, 2019

As Howard Fisher's 93rd birthday approached, he told his daughter about one regret he had. He's lived in Florida for decades, but has never gone for a swim in the ocean.

"Sandra, isn't it ironic? I have lived here 20 years and never once went in the ocean....now I think I might like to but I can't," Howard told his daughter, Sandra Fisher Van Nostrand, who spoke to CBS News via message. Van Nostrand told her dad he would get to swim in the ocean — she would make sure of it.

Van Nostrand said her dad grew up in New York and moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1969. Although he has taken his family to the beach, he never actually swam in the ocean. She has a photo of them together at the ocean when she was a little girl, but he's only in ankle-deep water.

Fisher served in the Navy during WWII and then worked as a pipe fitter while raising his family in Florida. He's had a long, happy life, and his daughter wanted to make his birthday special.

So, last month, she visited the Sunshine State from her home in Alabama and took her dad to Anna Maria Island on the Gulf of Mexico. This time, they didn't just cling to the shoreline — they went for Fisher's first-ever swim in the ocean.

Van Nostrand waded into the water, helping her floating dad drift in the waves. She posted photos of their romp in the sea on Facebook. "He loved the ocean. He kept saying, 'Isn't this great! Look at the sky and the clouds and the water!'" Van Nostrand told CBS News. "I think he loved that he didn't have to stand up and that he was buoyant. He said, 'I float just like a cork!'"

Fisher floated on his back, letting his troubles melt away into the sea. His dream was fulfilled and got to spend a tranquil birthday enjoying the ocean.

When they were all done with their swim, Van Nostrand asked her dad if he was ready to go. "Hell, no it's a beautiful day...let's go to Rod and Reel," he told his daughter, who took him to the nearby restaurant on the beach for a birthday lunch.