Monday, August 15, 2011

farewell in Maine (m)

I wake up on the second day in Maine to a fog-filled landscape.  The ocean air comes in through the window and clears my sinuses.

The service for Abby's mom is at 11 a.m.  I decide to go for a long walk.

My host, E, tells me that the beach is a 15-minute walk from the house.  I head in that direction.  As I walk along the road, I breathe in salt air and pine, a heady combination.  If I lived in Maine, or at least vacationed here, I think I would be healthier. 

The beach is rocky and rustic.  Red lobster shells form a line where someone had a picnic the day before.  Seeing this triggers a long-forgotten memory of the bridesmaids' luncheon for Abby.  Her mother took us out on a cruise of the island, looking very chic in her straw hat at the helm of her beautiful boat.  We stopped at a spot and had cold lobsters with bernaise sauce (I had never had it before) and homemade blueberry muffins served out of a wicker picnic basket.  I am surprised at how vivid the memory is.  I can almost smell the muffins.

I continue walking for about an hour.  I arrive back at E's house and she greets me with a cup of hot coffee, canteloupe and a ginger scone.  I share half my scone with her adorable grandson, Sammy.

Abby instructed me (in her very kind, subtle way) not to wear black for the memorial service.  I promised her I would not look like I just stepped off the Andrea Doria.. I wear a white skirt, white blouse and light silver-gray sweater with a gray and white patterned scarf. 

E and I head to the church with her two older daughters.  E did a magnificent job decorating the outside railings with all-white flowers.  Beautiful.  Parked outside the church is Abby's mom's golf cart with a bouquet of flowers on her seat.  I start to choke up.

As I head up the stairs, I am greeted by my godson, Abby's eldest, dressed in his Marine officer's uniform.  I lose it.  How did the chubby blue-eyed baby I held at his Christening turn into a 6'4" lean Marine?  He looks so handsome.

The service is, music, eulogy.  The guests are dressed as if for a wedding.  Lots of hats, one even wears a fascinator.  Her mother would have been very pleased.  I sit with Abby to give her support but I think I cry as much as she does.  Oh, well.

The reception after at the golf club is a spectacular party.  It is a true celebration of a life well-lived.  At one point, Abby's sister L (one of my all-time favorite people) says her mom gave instructions not to "skimp" on the reception.  No paper goods.  Lots of food and drink.  The girls and their brother deliver big-time. 

Salmon, coconut shrimp, duck rolls, scallops wrapped in bacon, veggies and dip, sandwiches with their crusts cut off, lots of desserts.  It is a feast.

I take some pictures of the gorgeous setting and of Abby's family as W is still in his Marine uniform.

I visit with Abby's family and extended family who have been coming to this island for generations and I see the closeness of the cousins and know that the tradition will continue.

By 3 p.m. it is time to leave to get ready to board the ferry.

As I watch the island recede behind me, I say my farewells to a very special place and some very special people in my life.

I leave feeling full.

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