This afternoon in a quiet gathering at the little chapel on Northport Point, Michigan, dad’s ashes will be placed in the stone wall near the woods that he loved to walk through in summer, fall, winter, and spring. My sister Lucy and some friends and family will be there to share some memories written by her, my brothers Jud and Chris, and myself, and place some mementos in the niche with him.
They’ll sing the old hymn that concluded every service at the chapel: “I Feel the Winds of God To-Day” that includes the line, “It is the winds of God that dry my vain regretful tears, Until with braver thoughts shall rise the purer, brighter years.” Dad loved sailing, so even though he was not religious, the idea that out on the water, be it Lake Minnetonka, where he sailed with his twin, or Grand Traverse Bay, he was remembering those purer, brighter years.
Today would have been his 95th birthday, so after the ceremony they will gather to raise a glass of really good Scotch and share memories and animal jokes. And we will recall that on the morning Dad died, May 25, 2020, Mom wrote to us, “I want you to know, if you don’t already, that your father adored all of you, alone or together. He was so proud of you, how you’ve conducted yourselves as grown-ups, and how you’ve kept close to him even as the miles kept us apart. You were his greatest accomplishment, truth be told. All individuals in your chosen paths, but contributors to your communities in your own ways. Please keep his memory enshrined by going forward as he would have you do… giving back and making sure that wherever you are you’re not just sitting, but marching.”
We are, Dad.