Saturday 13 April 2019

Uncle George

So, here I am in paradise sitting on the lanai watching a small triangle of blue, green ocean send smallish whitecaps to shore while the palm trees sway in the not insignificant breeze. Did I mention that the sky was so blue it almost hurts to look at it? I suppose that there is road noice, but the sound of the surf and the wind in the trees cover it up nicely. I have a good book in front of me, a cold drink beside me and I am trying to decide whether to swim first and then walk along the beach or should it be the other way around. Certainly one of those first world problems.

Life is pretty good!

This morning we attended a beachside ceremony commemorating the passing of a 94 year old Kahuna. By all accounts “Uncle George” was beloved by the paddling community and pretty much everyone that knew him. He gave people laughter and strength. A life well lived.

The paddlers (seven or eight boatloads of them) gathered in a large circle in the ocean while prayers were said and Uncle George’s ashes were given back to the sea in a ceremony that sends his spirit on to the next challenge. The Kahuna joked that knowing Uncle George, there was a better than average chance that he wouldn’t wait for his spirit and would let it catch up later. It was a nice way to say goodbye for all who loved and respected him.

I stayed on the beach with some of the other land-locked people and watched the proceedings from the shore. It was less emotional that way. One of the women that I talked to had missed her spot on the boat because she was packing up her house to prepare for a move to the state of Washington. She didn’t want to move particularily but since she was about to retire she would no longer be able to afford to live in paradise. She was putting on a brave face, but you could tell that the tears were there just below the surface.

I can’t help but feel for her. In a perfect world you should be able to retire in the place that you spent your working life and where you raised your family. Unfortunately, this happens all of the time. There is a retirement community in Ontario that is in the middle of nowhere, hours form any large retail centre but it is affordable. Some folks want to start a new adventure late in their lives and I say good for them. I am one of the very lucky ones, able to live a life I choose and not one that is chosen for me. I wish I could say I planned for this, but I just fell into a job that enabled me to prepare for my retirement. Thank my lucky stars!

I wished that woman well and I hope that life in Washington will be fun for her. She seemed to be the type who could make friends easily and she is young enough to deal with her new circumstances.

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