By Chuck Woodbury
If you live in the Seattle area, you likely ride a ferry from time to time. I love riding the ferry. The trip from where I live in Edmonds across Puget Sound to Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula is about 20 minutes. I walked on the ferry last Saturday (an option to driving on) for a meeting near the dock.
I was happy to be on the ferry. It’s relaxing to sit by a window and watch an occasional sailboat pass or a huge container ship — and, on rare occasions, a pod of Orcas. Gorgeous mountains are all around, including Mt. Rainier to the south and Mt. Baker to the north, both magnificent Cascade volcanoes.
But I was feeling a little sad. I had just announced in this newsletter that my days were numbered at the helm of RVtravel.com. After decades working hard, expressing my creativity, and associating with so many wonderful people, it was difficult to think of stepping away. I am sure many people who retire from work they love feel the same.
About midway across the Sound, the captain announced that the ferry would soon stop briefly for a “memorial ceremony.” I assumed that meant for someone to throw the ashes of a loved one overboard.
I was curious, so I walked to the back of the ferry. A group of about two-dozen other people were standing there, all quiet, all respectful. Below, a young woman and another five or six people stood at the right rear on the car deck. The ship soon stopped. The young woman held a small white container, cardboard I think — the ashes.
Someone said a few words. The woman raised the box to her lips, kissed it, and then after a few seconds of thought, tossed it with both hands into the water. She was sobbing. Her companions gathered around to comfort her. In a few seconds, the ferry resumed its journey.
I wish to be cremated when I die, and I have often thought about having my ashes scattered in Puget Sound. For a moment, I envisioned that young girl as my daughter, tossing me into the sea.
That may sound morbid to you, but not to me. As I get older, thoughts like that come more often. They don’t necessarily make me sad. I think they are simply my way of coming to terms with my own mortality, drawing ever closer as the days, weeks, months and years pass by, ever faster.