Thursday, January 26, 2012

Changing of the guard, passing the baton, one door closes...

The sentiment comes dressed up in many of our favorite cliches - the shift of dominance from elder to younger, the inevitable march of time. Most of the time, its just the days passing - or, in our house, the flipping of the hourglass.

But every now and then the moment sneaks up and bonks you on the head.

Earlier this week, after dropping Dylan off at his off-island school and running some errands, I found myself on the ferry back home later than is my norm. It had turned into a beautiful afternoon, sunny and golden, with puffy clouds on the horizon and seabirds swirling in azure skies. I had an enviable spot at the front of the dear, beloved ferryboat Rhododendron. This little vessel is from a by-gone era, with her brass fittings, teak benches, and lanes too narrow for modern day Navigators. She is much loved.

She also breaks down a lot.

But, we cherish her and awaited her imminent replacement with dread and loathing. That afternoon, I found out that Fate had given me a small but precious gift - a spot on the Rhodie's very last voyage across our waters. After learning this, I looked around. There were a fair few people there, a little teary, like me, having walked on board just for the chance to say a proper good-bye.

The 15 minutes went by too fast. We chatted and took lots of photos. I tried to capture some of her magic in images of fittings and details I knew the new boat wouldn't have. I wanted to remember that there was a time when boats like this were built, that they criss-crossed Puget Sound with grace and dignity. That their crews polished their railings every morning and toddlers ran along their teak benches into the arms of young parents and indulging grandparents. She was the last of her kind in our fleet and she would be missed.

And then it was over, and I was driving off the Rhododendron, watching her replacement slip quietly into the far-away dock for the next run. I drove home, choked up and grateful for the events of the day that had put me on that voyage.

But, being late, I was only home for a short while before it was time to turn around and head back to the boat - the new boat - and pick Dylan up from his school day.

And there it/he was. A bright, shiny, new, state-of-the-art ferry with my son and his pal front and center, waving wildly from the impossibly high passenger deck. The next generation, setting sail and ready for the next 20 years. By an accident of Fate, Dylan had stepped into the maiden voyage of our new vessel. I said good-bye and he said hello.

"Guess what, Mom?" he said when he stepped onto the dock, "I was Passenger Number SIX!"

I smiled.

Here, bud, grab this stick.


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