When you’re a Washashore,vs. a Cape-born Sandkicker, the premise of how long one has to live here to feel like a Real Cape Codder is pretty subjective. As the months have turned into years, I reach new milestones that make me feel more and more integrated into that which defines a Real Cape Codder to me. Last month was a big one, as we joined family and friends to give Ray, our “brother-from-another-mother” his last sendoff.
His request had been to throw his ashes into the waters where he spent so much time fishing. As his daughter, Lauren, and family made their way from their home in Germany, the rest of the family and friends put heads together to plan a fitting goodbye. Now, Ray wouldn't have wanted anything fancy. “Just toss ‘em in and let me go.” It would have been easy for Anna and the kids to pick a nice day and go out by themselves, but, when approximately 75 “just close friends and family” wanted to participate, one boat grew into a flotilla of more than half dozen, arranging to meet in Pleasant Bay at a designated time. My designated job was to bring flowers from my garden so that everyone could have one to toss into the water. Easy, Ray loved my gardens and I was happy to share with him this last time.
There’s a good reason why Ron calls me “his seasick mermaid”. I literally get queasy watching a rocking boat in a movie. I even get a little green when he describes the time I went out on his sailboat with him. I am now surrounded by water and friends with boats, but it took Ray to finally get me back on one. And oh yes, I WAS getting on that boat, much to Ron’s concern. My determination and a dose of dramamine won out, and so what if I slept the rest of the afternoon when we got back? Ron and I boarded one of the nephew’s boats with Ray's brother Al, who had requested we ride with them, and as we motored out towards Pleasant Bay listening to one of Ray's favorites, Taj Mahal singing ‘Fishin' Blues’, I pretended I was on a subway car rocking side to side, or riding a horse when the wake shifted front to back, and I focused all my thoughts on doing the best justice I could to photographing Ray’s farewell.
As the boats gathered close to each other at our meeting point, we all tuned in to marine channel 17 and listened as Ray’s oldest son, Damon, thanked everyone for coming and noted that the day was also Ray and Anna’s 40th anniversary. We didn't all know each other, but we were united that morning by the love we all had for Ray, which was always returned unconditionally. Sometime around this point, a beam of light suddenly shone down from a perfectly clear sky and illuminated the boat holding his ashes. We were too far away in our boat to see it, but I’ve included one of the pictures taken by a family member at the end of my slideshow that clearly shows it. And then, it became very quiet as Anna gave a kiss to the bag holding Ray’s remains and gently poured them into the water. As the shadow of what had been our friend was taken by the current, flowers were tossed from all directions to follow along as it dispersed. A short ride through the Narrows, like ducks following each other finished the simple ceremony, and as we headed back to the dock, and some headed to gather at one of Ray's favorite restaurants in Eastham, aptly named The Friendly Fisherman, I couldn’t help noting with a grateful smile that Ray was also heading towards Eastham. Farewell, friend, you left the best of yourself behind with us.
A couple of nights later, we were included in a family birthday party for Lauren’s two year old, Marla. As usual, the Brunelle home was humming with activity inside and out, a lot of it coming from the new crop of grandkids, nieces and nephews. The counters and tables groaned with incredibly delectable food, the old stories flowed, and for a special treat, Lauren and her husband, Malte picked up guitars and sang songs they had adapted for the occasion, like “Raymond Rowed the Boat Ashore”, some new verses to Taj’s “Fishin’ Blues” and a special one Lauren said was just for me, “I’ve Got Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle”. Lauren was playing the guitar that Anna gave to Ray on their wedding day. The night was intimate, bonding, bittersweet, and to tell you the truth, I’ve never felt more like a Real Cape Codder.
Slide show and short video to follow: