Cancer

On Sunday we held a memorial for Max on the yacht he owned for many years, but sold to our friend, Tim. While Max kept the yacht together with bondo and gum, Tim has meticulously dismantled every inch of the boat and updated, reconstructed or replaced it.  After four long years of backbreaking work, Tim has finally reached the home stretch. Unfortunately, it’s a long stretch and he wasn’t quite ready to have 20 family and friends traipse onboard her Sunday at noon. Since I didn’t know the exact condition of the boat, I arrived an hour early with my stepdaughter prepared to set up the food and beverages. Instead I came upon a construction zone only safe for hard-hats, not party hats.  So Leah and I immediately rolled up our sleeves and loaded boards and wrenches and metal trim from the deck and salon into the front stateroom.  At noon, we hadn’t finished the job, nor set up the spread, so the guests formed an enclave in the parking lot awaiting word on when it would be done. Finally at 12:30, I was able to invite them topside.

After the less than auspicious beginning, I didn’t know what to expect, but Reverend April from Hospice did a smashing job of leading a warm and fuzzy and inviting service. Tim and I read our poems to the group after which Tim presented the ship’s bell he had discovered hidden away. He had it polished to a mirror-like shine, and planned to engrave it with the dates Max owned the boat. What a wonderful surprise.  We  then had a chance to share our individual Max stories, which had us all in stitches. The joy I experienced far overshadowed the sadness I  felt.  It was a wonderful memorial for Max.

As part of that memorial, I wrote a poem to try and capture the essence of Max as I knew him. Of course, a short poem, or really a poem of any length, could never truly offer a full sense of Max, but I did the best I could on short notice. Here’s what I wrote:

FARMER MAX

I can visualize you still with the sun at your back

Shirtless in coveralls

Farmer Max

You choose to be a farmer, to dig and to hoe

No matter the obstacles, you never let go

A dying tree or a failing transaction

You doggedly persisted until satisfaction

With unstinting humor, incredible passion

Endless energy and amazing compassion

You could handle situations I would blunder through

you always had the answers

you knew just what to do

Your awareness of others, even when I forgot

you’d tell me what they needed

and that helped a lot

You could cut through tension, like a knife through air

with your razor sharp wit

and your devil may care

With a brilliance I admired and a photogenic recall

you could quote any actor and impersonate them all

A wild man you were but it never seemed extreme

with your motorcycle madness and your paragliding dream

But with all of your presence and extraordinary traits

you weren’t an angel and heaven wasn’t your fate

Restlessness bedeviled you and stood in the way

of your feeling happy for longer than a day

It pushed you to actions that were hard to tolerate

and could sabotage the very things

you wanted to create

But in spite of your warts

I miss you so

and wish you could be here with both of your bros

You rarely missed a party and loved a good time

I’m sure you’re here today, in spirit… and in our minds

August 14, 2013

The Cancer Diary: Afterthought 5 – Memorial

On Sunday we held a memorial for Max on the yacht he owned for many years, but sold to our friend, Tim. While Max kept the […]
August 5, 2013

The Cancer Diary: Afterthought 4 – What Friends are For

Four weeks ago today Max died. It’s been a difficult few weeks, but I can feel the clouds beginning to lift.  With the Memorial this coming […]
July 30, 2013

The Cancer Diary: Afterthought 3 – Too Young to Die

The storm has finally moved ashore. I must have been in shock for the past three weeks, but the numbness has lifted and all that remains […]
July 24, 2013

The Cancer Diary: Afterthought 2 – PTSD

Last week I wrote about my survivor’s guilt, but I realize now it’s part of a large phenomenon; what is referred to as Post Traumatic Stress […]