Fifty Years

Today marks fifty years since the day my grandfather died of a heart attack.

He was my mother’s father, and we called him “Bumper”, because one of my older cousins had trouble pronouncing the word “Grandpa”. I have some fragmentary memories of him, blurred by time. I suspect my Aunt Sandy’s sons remember him slightly better than I do; I’m not sure if my sister Nancy does; the rest of my siblings and my Uncle Kip’s family were all too young to know him.

I remember he had a very slow, deliberate, way of speaking. Probably my strongest memory of him was the time I got a good report card; I called him up (or my mother did), and I told him about the report card, and him saying, in that deliberate way of his, “You deserve a buck.” Sure enough, the next time he came over, he gave me one.

I remember the foreign cars, first, the big Mercedes, with the big grille on the front, and then the tiny, funny looking Citroën.

I’d like to say I remember seeing him at Christmas, always Christmas Night, but my memories could simply be the result of seeing the pictures of them.

I remember seeing him in his Cape house in Sunset Village, working in his garden, and visiting him once or twice in the duplex in Milton he shared with his second wife.

I’d just turned 8 when he died. I don’t remember them, but my mother likes to tell a couple of stories about my reaction. I went to Catholic school, and the school was next to the church where his funeral Mass was held. Apparently, my third grade teacher, Mrs. Carolan, told my mother that when the bells began to toll, I went over the windows to look out at the church, and told her that the bells were for my grandfather. My mother also says she found a note I’d written afterwards, saying something like “Bumper’s dead, boo hoo”.

I don’t remember those things myself. What I do remember is the night of the funeral, Dad was putting away the flag that had been draped over the coffin — Bumper had been an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers, and worked his way up to Colonel — and he made a point of telling me how much he had liked and respected his father-in-law.

I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember the tone. I think he made the point that a lot of guys don’t get along with their fathers-in-law, but that Bumper was special, and that he really respected him and enjoyed being around him. I’m not sure what his motivation was; he may have been responding to my upset; it may have simply been something he needed to say to me, but he felt lucky Bumper has been his father-in-law, and hoped that I would be as lucky has he had been.

Last Day

Today was the last day of diving. My flight leaves tomorrow at 3:30, so I wanted to be out of the water by 3.

Most of us had not yet taken all of our boat dives, so Paul was able to reserve a boat for two tanks this morning. The first site was Country Garden, to the north of the resort. Country Garden has a number of large coral outcroppings. Under one of them, the guide pointed out a very large sea lobster that put most of our New England lobsters to shame.

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Karpata, Knife, and Oil Slick Leap

Fourteen years ago, near the end of my first trip here, we visited Karpata, a shore dive on the northern end of the island. You go down a number of concrete steps to the shoreline, and there’s an abandoned building up above. I remember liking the dive, and have been wanting to do it ever since, but for one reason or another, never have.

Today, I finally made it happen. We had an open morning, so after checking to see if anyone else was interested, I headed up there by myself. We were scheduled for boat dives at one, so I made sure to leave early enough to get up there, do a dive, and get back  by 11:30.

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Shore Diving

We had no boat dives booked today, so today was shore diving day.

The initial plan was to go to Salt Pier in the morning, do one dive there, and another dive also at the southern end of the island, and then figure out what to do in the afternoon. Mike and I were talking about doing Karpata, despite the fact that Paul had mentioned doing it Thursday morning.

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Hello from Bonaire

We got into Bonaire this evening just past sunset. It’s been a long day. I was up at 1:55 to get to Logan by 3:30; it was a good thing I was early because the line to check in was enormous; I didn’t have my boarding pass in hand until close til 4:30. Thankfully, the flight, which had been scheduled for 5:30, didn’t leave until close to 6; It was a good thing, because Jack, who’d been trapped in the check in line, just barely made the flight. Even better, they made up for the delay in transit, and we arrived in Houston nearly on time. Continue reading