We used to work together, many years ago. We met again watching the annual Sea Cavalcade parade: the make shift floats full of kids throwing candy, the golden girls in a vintage cabriolet followed by a pipe band and then, as every year, the service vehicles: Ambulance, Fire trucks, Police cruiser. We both waited for other people and decided to have a pint at Grandma’s Pub, overlooking the government dock, several boats at anchor and Keats Island in back ground. At first we reminisced about the good old days, back in the years before everything changed.
“1998 was a great year, I made lots of money. Come to think of it I make about the same now as I did then ?” Carl mused and took a swallow of his pint.
We both sat quiet, lost in our thoughts.
“You want to hear a strange little story,” and without waiting for my response continued. “Wendy, my wife, and I were browsing in some 2nd hand shops a few weeks ago and since I didn’t see anything I strolled outside and waited by the car for her, knowing full well that she was going to find something.
“Look what I found,” she gushed and proudly held out her hand which cradled a pink heart shaped, shiny soap dish like object t with the word Mom embossed in silver across the top.
“What is this ? a paperweight ?” It was made of some kind of polished stone, probably marble. “Let me see it.” I turned it over and their was a silver lid on the back side with the small stamped words In Memoriam above it.. I opened the lid and the inside was full of white ashes and what I took to be a tiny bone fragment.
“These are human remains,” I said to Wendy who took a step back .
“Oh my God, what are we going to do ?”
We took out an ad in the local paper, hoping somebody would come forward. A son, a daughter, maybe grand kids. Mom was obviously somebody’s mother.
We waited a couple of weeks and when no response came I called the local minister for advice. “Do whatever you deem dignified, according to your religion or believe and dispose of it with respect. That’s all you can do.”
Wendy and I discussed this matter seriously as if we were somehow related to Mom and I felt that indeed we were. We were of the same global tribe and we owed each other some basic things like respect, dignity and closure. We decided to take Mom for a trip up the coast in our sail boat, in fact it was the catalyst for our summer sail. It became our quest. We settled on Louisa Inlet for a fitting resting place for Mom. The sail up the west coast took us past some of the most spectacularly dramatic landscape anywhere, rugged, rocky shores with the odd house poking out of the mantle of green trees which draped over the steep, wild country. Inhospitable, but wildly beautiful. We had all the creature comforts of modern life on board as well as charts and VHF, cell phones and cameras and we marvelled at the explorers of old who sailed these waters without comfort and no idea where their wretched journey would lead or end. Names like Deserted Bay and Desolation Sound, which today is one of the most coveted destinations for boaters were not dispensed with hope but out of desperations.
We sailed past Nelson Island and tucked into Jervis inlet, motored up the Royal Reaches until we found the hidden entrance halfway up Queens Reach. We entered Princess Louisa Inlet through the Malibu rapids at high tide and emerged into a body of water about 1 km wide and 5 km long, flanked by mile high perpendicular cliffs on all with cascading waterfalls tumbling into the dark green water from all sides. At the end of the inlet is chatterbox falls which is a grand curtain of water in one of natures most spectacular theatres backlit by the sun which was about to fall behind the snow capped mountain tops .
We stopped short of the dock at the end of the inlet and in a moment of silence and calm we dropped the pink box into the luminous water and followed it as it descended into the deep, fading and disappearing to it’s final resting place. I felt a strange elation and peace come over me and I took Wendy’s hand and even though we are not religious and have no illusions about god we touched an inner place that came from the center and it made us feel good and at one with the world.”
We both fell silent, lost in our thoughts, looking out at the harbour ad Keats Island. “Nobody has Quests anymore,” Carl said, taking a sip of his beer, “and it felt good to have a quest and see it through. For those few days we lived with a purpose and gave our lives a focus.”