A WINDY GOODBYE
A WINDY GOODBYE
By Janus Blume
© July 5, 2018
We were saying goodbye to the remains of four individuals that day, three humans and a cat.
Robert’s mother, Catherine, whose presentation was that of a cross between a down-to-earth girl from Oklahoma and a grand dame. She was the sort of person the world would have been privileged to know if Jeff Foxworthy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis had a daughter together.
I know that’s just wrong on so many levels, generationally, culturally, every way you can think of. But if it were possible, and if you could imagine it, then you would have a pretty good idea of who Catherine Blume was without having met her. I adored her.
We also had with us the ashes of Robert’s sister, Gretchen.
Dear Gretchen was a woman of movie-star beauty whose journey through this valley of tears was saddened by schizoaffective disorder. Sometimes she would pretend that she didn’t believe she was pregnant, but she did, anyway. Always.
The term “immaculate conception” refers to the doctrine that God removed the sin from the human act of reproduction when the Virgin Mary was conceived, but many people mistakenly refer to it as the way Mary was impregnated by God. Gretchen sometimes used that phrase to describe what she believed to be her condition. She thought that she was carrying a child conceived without the help of a man.
The third person whose remains we carried aboard that day was Michael. His friendship with Robert dated back almost as far as the summer of love. We stuck by Michael when he declared himself transgendered, named herself, Deni, and started sporting shaved legs and high heels. We stuck by her when he got divorced. She went through months of therapy. Thankfully, his/her transgender needs were graciously accommodated by her employer, the U.S. Postal Service, and she was ready for surgical gender reassignment. Then he realized that he was a man, after all. Our friendship never wavered.
The cat was named Betty. We knew that because of the tag on the box of ashes. Catherine had four cats toward the end of her life. None were properly box trained, and it made your eyes water to go into the house.
Betty’s death was accounted for. She got sick and had to be put to sleep at the vet’s. She was a sweet kitty. The other three mysteriously disappeared after Catherine’s caregiver tried to talk us into taking them and failed.
The day turned dramatic as the wind rose, the seas tossed the little ship we were on so hard the coffee carafe broke and the first mate had to take all of the bottles off of the bar. Any plans for words or songs spoken over our beloved departed were abandoned, as we sat on chairs at the back of the ship, holding on for dear life.
Later, the ship was boarded by a pair of overly friendly Harbor Patrol police who were simply making sure that all vessels were properly registered. The captain, also being overly friendly, produced the required documents, only to realize that the paperwork had recently expired.
The officers were very curious about our relationship to the ship’s captain. It wasn’t licensed for charter, and arrangements were made through a mutual friend. It appears that the slips of only certain ports in San Diego harbor are authorized to issue charter permits, and there are long wait lists and expensive rents for those places.
I kept my mouth shut and smiled. There was no way to deny that it was exciting. I have never before been on a vessel that was boarded by harbor police, and I don’t expect that it will happen again. A once in a lifetime experience.
I’m one of those people who always has to wonder what’s behind it whenever there’s commotion and drama in my life. We were engaged in the simple act of respectfully returning the earthly remains of these individuals to the elements.
Maybe one of them was incomplete, didn’t want to go back. It could have been Gretchen. Did she feel bound to a lifetime of waiting for a child who would never be born? It was probably just a windy day.
Where do we come from and where do we go? It’s all so mysterious. People all over the place pretend to have the answers. I sense that we’re part of something bigger than the roles we act out in a lifetime on this planet.
May Catherine, Michael, Gretchen, and Betty the Cat rest in peace. If we’re playing a cosmic game of peek-a-boo as I suspect, then in love may they return.