15 April 2012
Living aboard, living the cruising life, isn't always lost boys, wendy, fights with pirates, tinkerbell, pixie-dust and never-never land. Sometimes real life insists on equal time:
I spent all last week trying to talk myself out of going to a memorial service; or maybe I was trying to talk myself into going. Bill, I learned today, was only 10 years older than me, but (like my friend Mike F said) he seemed older than that. He was a sergeant at the SO when I was hired. Memory says he was the guy who did my background (and is therefore the person responsible for my being hired there). I remember him as a kind, older guy who wore sweaters, and had a bit of mischief in his eye. I'd see him around the office; he was always friendly; always seemed to know something about what I was up to and was interested in that, in a friendly way. I knew where he lived (we got a puppy from him once, years ago - Chico, a hunting dog who, according to my father-in-law, didn't hunt very well); that he had kids - his 3 boys are all police officers now, one with the SO, who I spoke with once before my retirement; and a wife Sue, who to my surprise, I recognized, when I saw her at the church.
There was an another gathering at the same time as the memorial service - a baby shower for my daughter Kate; 39 and expecting her first child in six weeks or so. DJ (the baby to come) has a name and a gender and people are already talking about him as though he's a real person; which from the size of Kate's belly (no offense meant Kate) seems appropriate. I was tempted not go to the memorial for Bill - the last dead co-worker service I attended, was unsettling, as my reactions to the presence of several of those attending, approached the distinct possibility of mayhem. There would be no emotional work associated with the baby shower; I could simply sit in the corner, smiling benignly at the many women attending, like the doddering elder some believe me to be.
To attend the memorial service required a girding of the mental loins; a recitation of the good reasons I should attend: Bill's kindnesses to me created a (never-intended-to-be-onerous) obligation to attend; the many co-workers and friends who attended my father's funeral, not because of a relationship to my father, but to me, obligated me to return that respect to Bill's boys, who while they will not remember distinctly who attended, will definitely remember that the building was filled -- the entire back wall lined with persons standing; and an unspoken, but never-the-less real duty, to mark the passing of someone who has earned that acknowledgement.
I coerced Mike F into attending with me; it appears he was also ambivalent about attending, likely for similar reasons. And admittedly, it was easier on me to go with someone. Bill must have been in charge of who attended, as I did not run into anyone who needed a severe beating (in my mind); quite the opposite, it was genuinely lovely to spend a moment with many of the people I've admired, respected, trusted and loved in my work life. It was good to see (from a distance) Bill's family, the boys in their uniforms, Sue appearing serene. They'll be OK; I think this because, though it has been eight? years since my dad passed, I think of him every day; miss him every day; am grateful every day to have been his son.
There is the sense that I'm in line; the line moves, sometimes shuffling, sometimes lurching, but always moving forward to where the next person from my life dies. My turn is coming; there's no getting out of line. I can make some educated guesses about how far down the line I am, but really, I don't know when my turn will come. Not too soon I hope. I still have friends and siblings to hang with; adventures that need doing; boat chores waiting; dogs that need walking; Dorothy whose company I hope to share as long as I have breath in my body, kids and grandkids who I'd like to see some more of and soon there'll be DJ and maybe he'll need a Papa to show him a few things.