High Tide

About two weeks ago, Marty and I were invited to attend a memorial service for our friend, John, and witness his ashes being scattered in Long Island Sound. About fifty close friends and relatives arrived at the home of the deceased around 3:30 p.m. so that we could be at the beach at high tide, around 4:00.

People wrapped themselves in coats and scarves, in anticipation of cold winds coming off the sound, and we walked a short distance to the beach from the home.

It was a cool fall afternoon without other beach lovers in the vicinity. The children in the group didn’t hesitate to splash in the water and draw figures in the sand.

John’s son, Christian, donned a pair of short pants and carried a large plastic bag containing his father’s ashes. John was a big man and there were seven pounds of ashes. Christian spoke briefly about his Dad, and about how he always waited for the tide to be high to enjoy a swim. There were tears in his voice as well as in his eyes.

Christian waded into the sound just above his knees. We watched as he fed the voracious waves small amounts of his father’s remains until they were all devoured. A very emotional experience!

Even without the accoutrements of a formal funeral, saying good-bye to a parent is traumatic. You become part of the older generation when your parent is gone. Every family must choose the form of closure that is right for them. Yet by disbursing the ashes of a loved one, you in effect, return the person to nature.

We quietly walked back to the house. A gracious reception awaited us.

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How do You Like Your Coffee? Time to Ban Guns in Public Places!

Marty and I stopped for lunch at the Black Bear Café one day during our recent trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming, and noticed a man sitting at the counter with a pistol in his belt. The Black Bear is anything but a Wild West saloon, with swinging doors. In fact it is a family oriented restaurant, favored by locals and visitors, alike. “Jack” helped himself to coffee, from one of the glass pots on the burner. Since we were not served yet, he poured coffee for us and started a conversation. He said that since Wyoming was a state that permitted carrying guns he might as well keep his visible.

One afternoon, about a week or so later, we stopped at the Bear for pie and coffee. We noticed Jack leave, but since he was in another part of the store, we thought he hadn’t seen us. When we were about to pay, we were surprised to learn that our friend treated us to our dessert. Jack seems like a nice person, and I’m sure that there are many nice people who tote guns.

Some states allow open carry of guns in public places; few have laws preventing it. But as Gail Collins wrote, “The open display of weaponry freaks out average citizens, especially the ones with children. It outrages police.”

I thought of the snake of dubious nature that I caught sight of at the counter in a Dunkin Donuts restaurant.  People who flaunt weapons and wild animals seek to draw attention to themselves and shock others. Like Jack, many of these people may be very nice. However we don’t know when anger might trigger a violent response.

There is no place for reptiles at Dunkin Donuts, and there is no place for guns, whether concealed or in full view, in restaurants  and at playgrounds.

Do we need another Charleston?