My Memaw died while I was in Turks and Caicos. My sweet little Grandma had been sick for years with Alzheimer’s. I’m relieved her suffering is over. The last few years were hard to watch. She was just so helpless. It’s a horrible disease. My Grandpa “ZZ” has already been gone for 5 years. I was close to them both. Growing up I was there every chance I got even if it meant jumping on a Greyhound bus for a visit. I actually moved in with them the day after my high school commencement ceremony so I could work in downtown Fredericksburg until classes began at college.
I knew her time on this planet was coming to an end because she was receiving Hospice care and was in and out of consciousness during the last weeks of her life. Trent and I were anchored in Sapodilla Bay when I received a Skype message from my mother at around 4:30 a.m. on March 21st. I was constantly checking the computer, and always desperately trying to get internet on the water, in order to receive an update and was wide awake thinking about her and praying with all my might when the message came through.
You see we were due to leave with a flotilla at 5:30 a.m., which was an hour later, to make a big 28 hour passage to the Dominican Republic. It’s important to us to travel in a group and we couldn’t afford to fall behind; hurricane season was breathing down our stern and we still had to clear The Mona Passage to Puerto Rico and didn’t want to have to blast through the Virgin Islands. We were still fighting the Easterlies and couldn’t afford to miss another weather window. We were held captive by the wind in Luperon for over 2 weeks and that would have been plenty of time for me to make a flight back to Texas but the weather is just so unpredictable that we had to stay in ship shape for The Mona Passage. Trent’s so sweet and encouraged me to go if needed but I chose to save my visit home for happier times.
Now that sounds so selfish when I read this back to myself but in my heart I knew my Grandparents wouldn’t have wanted me to fly in for the funeral. They’d be mad at me for wasting a flight home on this. They wouldn’t even be there. I discussed it with my parents when we got into the DR and they agreed that I should stay. I absolutely felt guilty for not being there for my family but they had each other; I have a big family.
With tears streaming down my cheeks we pulled up the anchor, raised the sails and pointed Pepper toward the DR. I was so weepy and pathetic and would burst into tears without warning. I couldn’t tell if the salt on my face was from sea spray or tears, it was all mixed and tasted exactly the same. That was my most gloomy passage in the history of sailing Pepper. I felt so disconnected out there on the water and was surrounded by nothing but water, waves and more water. I’d just stare at the horizon for hours thinking about my Grandparents and the things we used to do together and how my family, especially my mother the primary caretaker, was coping. I couldn’t talk to or send out a quick message. We don’t have a cell plan anymore and it wouldn’t have done me any good anyways because we were so off the grid. I got word that my Grandma died and couldn’t talk to my family until more than 30 hours later.
It wasn’t until today that I woke up ready to write about my feelings and to let you know that it’s not all sunsets and mai-ties out here when stuff like that is going on at home. The last time I went home was when I drove the Suburban there and left it for my brother in October. I got to meet my new baby niece and I hear she’s crawling now! I whispered goodbye to my Memaw because I felt that it would be the last time I saw her. I was right. If I would have been home I guarantee I’d have been there helping to make arrangements. I would have taken a week off from work and probably would have been at her bedside when she took her last breath. It’s tough for me to imagine my family at her funeral, without me, but life goes on.
Being disconnected is hard sometimes. It’s lucky if I can grab internet while at anchor to send a quick message home, letting them know my location and that I’m safe. Understandably I’m usually the last hear news from home and I used to be the first. We’re blessed beyond belief to be living this dream while in our 30’s and I’m not complaining. I’m just saying there’s a tradeoff.
My sense of adventure and love for the outdoors most certainly comes from ZZ. I grew up hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and doing all that fun stuff with him. I’d like to believe that if they were still alive that their only reason for owning a computer would be so he could keep up with me on the blog. I know exactly where it would sit in his house too and I can envision them huddled around it looking at pictures and reading my posts out loud to friends from church and during card parties. My Aunt Krista would have to show them a dozen times how to turn on the machine. They’d ask me to send them a stack of boat cards so they could give the website to their friends. ZZ would have loved a trip like this for himself, Memaw would have worried about me a lot, but both would have proud of us for taking a leap of faith. I’m crying again. This is straight from my heart.
I have plans to fly home once we get Pepper to Granada and can hardly wait. I’ve already checked prices on several different airlines and airports. I hope to see my Grandparent’s home one last time before it gets a new family and the contents are distributed amongst my mother, aunt and uncle. Maybe they’ll save me a cast iron frying pan, the one that stayed permanently on the stove because they used it so much. I remember eating lots of ei-brot (German for egg toast) breakfasts made with that ugly thing. We had the best chats while they were in the kitchen and I sat at the bar watching, sometimes chopping up some veggies. I also am so anxious to see my little niece and nephew too. Plus I have a darling little first cousin, Ella, who I can’t wait to hang out with. They’ve all grown so much! Just so much has happened while I’ve been a sea which will make a visit home so valuable. Life is short. I’ll cherish every moment. I mean just look at these faces!