Goodbyes are always poignant and often difficult, especially so when there is an air of finality. Such it was on Saturday, September 20, 2014, when we gathered at the shore to place my mother's ashes into the ocean. Poignant in that it brought back the memories of a similar time fifteen years ago (almost to the day) when Michael and I placed our father's remains into the sea, at very close to the same location. Difficult, because it drives home that finality.
Bittersweet is another word that seems to fit the circumstances. The sweetness was in the gathering of loved ones, of those closest to Mom. It was her immediate family, consisting of her two sons, daughter-in-laws Karen and Carol, grandsons David and Noah, and granddaughter Sabrina. Even our dogs Maya and Nellie were present, which seemed appropriate given Mom's love of animals, especially dogs. No animal would starve in Mom's presence, and they learned to always sit at her feet.
It was a beautiful morning, and promised to be one of those rare 80-plus degree days at the Oregon Coast. This was a good thing, given that Mike and I would need to wade into the water at least up to our knees...and the ocean is not warm even in late summer. The surf was high and the waves crashed hard. There were a few surfers taking advantage of the high waves. A mist formed over the turbulent water and drifted over the beach.
Mom loved Seaside. It reminded her of her hometown of Scheveningen, a small town on the North Sea that was formerly a fishing village but later became a resort town, much like Seaside. Both towns even have a promenade that separates the sand from the hotels, houses, stores and restaurants. It was just a few weeks ago that she rode her wheelchair along the promenade with her sister Leny, brother-in-law Bill and niece Lucy.
The tears flowed as we walked onto the beach and we hugged each other...first Mike and I, then our children and wives. It was beautiful.