It’s Sunday morning and Brenda and I are aboard Pandora here in Stonington Harbor. Last evening we were both so bushed from rushing around for our son Rob’s wedding last weekend and then catching up on everything that had fallen behind at home from being away for nearly a week and working on “the big event” that we both went to bed really early. It was barely dark. I slept like a log. Or, as someone once said, “like a bowling ball, you toss it into the bed, it rolls to the middle and doesn’t move”.
Yes, we were pooped. It’s funny, but even though we didn’t do all that much to prepare for the wedding, it wore both of us out. Was it the food prep, long drive to MD, Brenda making her “mother of the groom outfit”? Whatever it was…
Aside from the Mother and Father of the groom stuff, our part was the “morning after” brunch which did take a lot of prep but turned out swimmingly. A good number of revelers came to Rob and Kandice’s home for the “after the event, event”, looking none the worse for wear, in spite of the festivities, and it was fun to see all the 30-somethings, although they were a lot less dolled up after a day of partying.
Never the less, Brenda and I, she still in her “upper mid 50s” and me a newly minted 60 something, were feeling plenty worn. However, no rest for the weary as we were to spend a week on Pandora for a mini-cruise in Eastern LI sound and perhaps Martha’s Vineyard.
Some weeks ago, my good friend Ken told me that his mother had died and that it was her wish as well as his father’s, who had died some years back, that their ashes be scattered along the way on a line running from Watch Hill Passage to Great Salt Pond, Block Island, a path that they had sailed so many times over the year that they had “worn a divot” in the waters over the years. Here’s a note from his will that Ken showed at the reception yesterday at the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club.So, when I heard about it the plans, I just as quickly volunteered to bring Pandora down from Wickford RI to help do the honors. So, yesterday, family arrived, urns and flowers in hand, and off we went.
What a beautiful day and likely one very similar to the many that his mom and dad had enjoyed on their countless sails in Block Island Sound over the years. We headed down the rhum line toward Block and when we crossed the 3 mile limit, the moment came. Ken hoisted pennants, including his Dad’s private signal, from the starboard spreader. Then he raised his dad’s American flag that had been flown over the White House and given to him in recognition of his service in WWII aboard the Coastguard Cutter Taney (the very same Taney that I saw in Baltimore last weekend and wrote about in this post) Ken had also written an article about his dad’s time in the service. The flag was then lowered to half staff. The “crew” assembled on the leeward rail (note to self: never, never sprinkle ashes from the weather rail). Flowers were tossed into the water as the ashes were slowly spread over the waters that meant so much to their family.The flowers and ashes left a lovely soft trail behind Pandora. We tacked to head back and Ken’s brother, Harold and his wife, trailed off of Pandora’s stern as we sailed slowly homeward. The “kids” had done this countless times when sailing with their parents, many years ago in these same waters and it seemed fitting to do so again as we passed through waters carrying their parent’s ashes.It was a wonderful trip and one that I was pleased to have an opportunity to share with Ken and his family.
The weather was perfect, with gentle breeze to draw us along… Two brothers paying last respects to parents who’s actions had earned it. Ken had told me years ago, perhaps when we were sharing watch aboard, that he had “chosen his parents well” and I guess that he had indeed meant it.
The experience was moving and reminded me of burying my own father’s ashes just about a year ago at the cemetery of the church in Weston CT that my parents had loved.
I can only hope that our own sons will someday be so moved when the time comes to do the same for us.
Forgive me but at the risk of carrying the “end” theme too far but it seems fitting to close with a photo of the sunset that I enjoyed as I rounded the point of Watch Hill with Pandora here to connect with Ken and his family on Friday night.
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