Sunday, May 26, 2013

Remembering two very special people...

May 24th dawned a beautiful day; how could it not? This was the day more than 70 people gathered to remember and celebrate the lives of two very special people... my parents.  Mom and Dad were special.  Their lives touched so many people in so many ways; through their childhood (they met when she was 14 and he was 17), during the war years (Dad served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserves), throughout their careers (both were teachers, Mom taught elementary school and Dad taught secondary), and during their sailing years (from their first date and for decades thereafter). They were leaders and adventurers, teachers and mentors,dear friends to so many, and hosts of some damn fine parties. They were Ted and Shirley Daley and we will never forget them.

We held the Celebration at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and it was a perfect venue.  Dad had been a junior member in his youth and they joined as a couple with the acquisition of Kiunga II (their metal hulled, gaff-rigged ketch) and remained members for the rest of their lives.  They also joined the RVYC Eight Bells Club and as a result their names are included on the memorial 'brass bell' at the Clubhouse. The Eight Bells Club provided a beautiful yacht from which to conduct the 'Ceremony at Sea', and we were welcome to use the Clubs lovely dining room for our reception. It was a fantastic gathering of friends, old and new, and a wonderful way for folks to share their memories and stories of the lives of mom and dad.

With the help of Sandra Campbell (catering manager for the Club) and Owen Wright (president of the Eight Bells Club) the plans for this event came together flawlessly. We held the 'Celebration at Sea' first. Sixteen of Dad's 'inner circle' boarded the beautiful motor yacht Tradition and under the guidance of owner/captain David Rolfe, we motored away from the RVYC docks and out to a position not far off the Club breakwater.  There, with the assistance of Reverend Nicholas Parker, and the ringing of eight bells signalling the end of watch, we said our final farewells to our dad.

I want to take a minute here to share with you a couple of things that happened....  First I must tell you that a dear friend of ours had recently reminded us to watch for eagles and other wildlife as they were a symbol in her culture and would be there to confirm our genuine thoughts and blessings.  Well, surprisingly we didn't see any eagles, but.....  we did meet up with two ravens. The first one anointed my truck in the parking lot moments after I had parked it and was probably Dad reminding me to 'keep it simple' and not get carried away, and then the second one visited with Kathy and I as we waited on the balcony outside the dining room... waited for the event to begin with our fingers crossed that all would go well.  This second raven stopped long enough to share a 'moment' with us.  I think she was probably mom, stopping by to tell us all would go well and not to worry. And so we continued down to the boat and out to the anchorage for the Ceremony at Sea.

Something else quite wonderful happened during the ceremony.  Two large wreaths had been donated.  One was from the RVYC and the other was from the RVYC Eight Bells Club.  Each of my two sisters 'laid' one.  Wreaths being laid on the water need to be dropped quite carefully and it took several minutes between the 'laying' of the first and the 'laying' of the second.  Sufficient time had passed that the wreaths were quite a distance apart, the first having been carried away by the wind and the current.  Even so, within a very short time... just a few minutes really, and as we watched in wonder... the wreaths began to slowly drift together.  Drawn to each other like magnets, they drifted closer and closer and finally came together until they touched.  They stayed like that for the remainder of the service and longer.  At the same time the wreaths came together (and this was witnessed by those of us on board the boat as well as the dozen or so guests who had gathered on the breakwater to watch)... at the same time the wreaths came together, two snowy white seagulls crossed their paths of flight over top of them... phew... that really was quite something to experience.

No, we will never forget... and we will rest secure in the belief that mom and dad really are together again... and at peace.

Two wreaths...two souls...

This is the keepsake / memorial card we prepared for the celebration.