Monday, November 16, 2009

Another Vessel Setting Sail

My paternal grandfather died November 9, 2000. It was a big blow and I continue to miss him deeply. I think about him often and consult those memories as I stumble through my imperfect life.

Initially I remembered on the 9th that it was his death day and I generally did something to commemorate it. That awareness has evolved so that now I just hear in my head all day, "This is November 9th, this is November 9th, this is Nov...." and I don't always remember why the day is knocking so loudly at my door.

My maternal grandmother died on December 10, 2000. She was a relatively unsentimental person and would, I'm sure, have told me to just deal with my own life and stop mucking around with hers. And to wear clean underwear while I did it. My grandfather would understand. He wouldn't care, I don't think, if I remembered his day but he would wholeheartedly stand behind honoring the past while addressing the future.

Today someone was telling me about a wonderful funeral he'd recently attended. He mentioned that a certain poem was read by the siblings of the deceased and that it had been read at every funeral of a member of that family for over 50 years. It's Tennyson, it's got to be good, right? And it's about boats and the sea so I think my grandfather would like it. In honor of my grandfather and my past and the iron strength of tradition I give you:

Crossing the Bar
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star
   And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
   When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
   Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
   Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
   And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
   When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
   The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
   When I have crossed the bar.


  1. That's beautiful.

    And it is a coincidence to read this on a day when I've gotten news that two old friends have died. They both had cancer and we knew it would be soon, but both today? I did not expect that.

  2. Jenn, so sorry. How odd to have them both on the same day.