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Gale in Nantucket Sound


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A neighbor of mine, Jim, died suddenly last week of a major coronary failure. I'd periodically pass him on the beach, while I was going out into Nantucket Sound, or jog by him when he was weeding his garden.

Jim seemed to understand my aversion to houseguests. One day, I was driving off to the Swan River race (thanks to folks here!), and he said "So, are you going and not coming back?"

We had a memorial service for him on the beach in front of my house this morning. It was rainy, wet and windy, and people would fidget trying to stay warm. All of the speakers kept saying how much he loved life and loved the sea; how we could honor his memory by being part of the ocean.

Well, it might have been totally bone-headed on my part, but I decided to go out solo on the water, with a wind forecast of 30 knots and gusts up to 45 (sez here at the NWS forecast). I wanted to honor Jim. My wind gauge was reading more like 25 with gusts up to 35.

I stayed close to shore, but had one slightly hairy open passage. This was just going from Harwich Port toward Chatham and back. Since the wind was from the north, and I was on a south-facing shore, I could duck in and out of little sheltered spots. There were times when I got caught by a gust and was glad I was able to hang in the lee most of the time.

The rain was splattering on my face and glasses and the wind whistled over the water, making a kind of hissing,moaning sound. Moored fishing boats bobbed up and down, and there wasn't a moving vessel to be seen, where once there had been jet-skis driving me crazy.

It took just the right amount of "push" on my part to get down and back. I also wanted to see how the seals in my kokotat held up, and jumped in the water after my little adventure. It was *too* good - I floated around like a sausage in a zip-lock baggie.

Goodbye Jim. Be free.

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Thanks for sharing your story. Coincidentally, someone I knew passed away suddenly while playing racquet ball. Professionally successful, he still found a way to make the time to travel with his family to the wild places, indulged his photography, doted over his son, experienced pride in son's musical talent in jazz - a musical form that he truly didn't understand... I attended a houseparty he threw for his friends -- a cadre of successful professional folks. What struck me was that he was merely cordial in introducing me as the director of the Chinatown Neighborhood Center but far more excited to tell folks that I had placed in surf kayaking competition awhile back. It seemed that he valued life more than one's achievement in the professional world and understood that there are many facets to making one "whole."

He passed at 57, as my father did. My mind has been awashed with memories. Bittersweet. Death is a part of life. While here, we go on living and should do the things that bring us joy and joy to others. Both would want this.


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