14 June 2018 | Ninette, Manitoba
On Sunday, December 17, 2017, we were on our boat in Fort Myers Beach, sound asleep, when the phone rang at 1:00 o’clock in the morning and we knew it was going to be bad news.
Brian’s brother, Norm, phoned to tell us that their Dad, had passed away at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 16th. Although 89 years old, it was still a shock because we thought he was quite healthy. He had come through surgery in October to repair an abdominal aneurysm with flying colours! He and Mom were getting ready for bed, and he fell to the floor, and died of heart failure.
We were only 57 nautical miles away from the Charlotte Harbour Boat Yard, and had to decide whether or not to leave the boat on a mooring ball at Fort Myers Beach or head back to the boat yard which is normally a two day trip. We had no idea how long we might need to leave the boat.
We decided to carry on with our plans for that day which was a get-together of boat yard friends who were driving down for breakfast and then going to a nautical flea market at Bonita Bill’s Marina. Getting together with these special people gave us the opportunity to share the sad news and helped to make it real.
Back on MIDORI, we checked the weather and found that there was a good weather window for travelling back to the boatyard on Monday & Tuesday. Decision made!
On Monday, Dec. 18th, we departed the Fort Myers Beach mooring field at 7:00 a.m. and travelled across San Carlos Bay, under the Punta Rassa Bridge and entered the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. We then proceeded behind the barrier islands of Sanibel, Captiva, N. Captiva and at noon we found ourselves passing by Cayo Costa (our usual anchorage) and decided to press on for the boatyard. Motoring across Charlotte Harbor and into the Myaaka River, because there was no wind, we still made good time to the self operating lock between the Myaaka River and the fresh water canal. We were in cell contact with people at the boatyard, so they knew we were coming. We arrived at 6:05 p.m. (dusk) where half a dozen people were there to meet us on the face dock and take our lines and help tie up MIDORI. And the nicest greeting of all…….”Finish putting the boat away and come inside to The Hut. No need to cook Lynn. Supper will be waiting for you.” The cruisers at Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage are like a second family. During this time of grief, we were supported by our cruising friends.
The next day, Tuesday, Dec. 19th, MIDORI was hauled out and blocked up and I proceeded to search for flights on-line and made travel arrangements to get us to Brandon, Manitoba.
On Wednesday, Dec. 20th, we drove to the Fort Myers airport, where we parked our car and flew to Winnipeg, MB. We had to overnight in Winnipeg and take a shuttle to Brandon the following afternoon, Dec. 21st, four days before Christmas.
Brian’s Mom, Ina had stayed with her son Norm and his wife Sharon for a few nights and then with her son Brent and his wife Maureen for a few nights, but felt ready to return to her condo where we would stay with her for however long it took. At 88 years old, she had just lost her mate of 70 years and had never lived alone since she left home to marry at age 18. And, she is blind……her vision having deteriorated over the past three to four years. And so began a very intense period of time, caring for a grieving mother.
Dad’s funeral took place on January 9th. A lot of work went into the preparation of the obituary and a family photo video with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The family worked together to find the best place that could provide retirement living with the extra assistance that Mom would require. Victoria Landing was chosen and an apartment became available for possession on February 9th. New furniture was purchased for the downsized space.
During the first two weeks of his Mom’s move, Brian slept on an air mattress until his Mom felt comfortable enough to be alone all night. Brent spelled him off a couple of nights and I too spent a couple of nights on the air mattress.
We continued to live in Mom’s condo in Brandon, not seeing the need to go back to our house, 50 km away in Ninette, which was closed for the winter. And speaking of winter, this was the first winter we had spent in Canada for 10 years! We also had the use of Dad’s car which allowed us to get around.
Slowly Mom got used to her new schedule, got to know her way around the apartment, around the building, got to know her table mates, appreciated her chef prepared meals, and started to participate in some of the activities.
On April 5th, we flew back down to Fort Myers to pick up our car and put the boat away properly. It took us 13 days to look after the boat and 4 1/2 days to drive home. We got back to our house in Ninette on April 22nd.
To date, Mom is doing very well and expresses contentment and appreciation for her new home.
We hope to return to MIDORI in the Fall and carry on with our sailing adventures.
Captain Brian and First Mate Lynn