I’m at the Anchor In, in Hyannis, on Cape Cod. A few weeks ago, or perhaps it was a month, my mother’s big brother died. Today is the memorial service. My mother, her sister, and my uncle’s wife and children will go out on a boat this morning to scatter his ashes. The rest of the extended family convenes at 3pm for the service.
My uncle was called Win, short for Edwin, son of Goodwin. He had four daughters, three wives, and a boat, on which he lived off and on for much of his adult life. I didn’t know him well, he didn’t fly, we lived far apart, I was the oldest cousin and out and about early in life. But since his death, in the family conversations, we’ve talked about how he loved Jimmy Buffet, as old sailors do, and with his white hair and big laugh was often mistaken for Santa Claus.
My daughter is here with me, as are my sisters. Our brother needed to stay in San Francisco with his new wife. We understand. Today we’ll go to lunch at the Hyannis Yacht Club. Then spend some time with family. Then to the service, and finally a lobster fest somewhere by the sea. Maybe we’ll be able to hear the waves, maybe there will be mosquitoes, maybe the night sky will turn bluer before it gets dark.
The cousins who arrived early enough last night all got together. I look forward to my cousin time today because extended family is an absolute joy. My daughter and I were still driving up from Newark last night, but apparently the cousins discussed what to wear. As one does. One cousin, one of Win’s daughters, upon a review of her packing, said, “Oh I forgot shoes! I will have to wear flipflops! Can I wear flipflops to a funeral?” She answered her own question. To Win’s funeral, yes. There is protocol, and there is remembrance.
So, daughter, sisters, aunts, wife, and daughters of Win, this afternoon I plan to show up in a navy linen shirtdress, pearls, and seersucker Sperry wedges. Navy for our culture, pearls for respect, and nautical shoes for your dad. I just noticed that right now, unplanned, I’m wearing black Havaianas with a little skull and bones decoration.
Let’s imagine it’s a gesture from the pirate universe.