The Solace of Snow
Well, we got through Ted Lynch’s memorial service, but it was hard on the 400 or so folks packed into the Chilkat Center. Who didn't weep at the music-- that Hawaiian version of Over the Rainbow and Wonderful World combined with all those slides of Ted, a 4th generation Alaskan fisherman, and his family? Smiling Ted on boats, with his brothers and sisters on boats or docks, with his children on boats, as a child himself on boats, with his babies on boats-- just about every picture of Ted was on boats or with his family, and usually both. His sister-in-law said that one season when she and her children fished with Ted’s family they had so many little kids on the boat that the other gillnetters wondered what they were doing, fishing, or running some kind of maritime summer camp? The surprise was that they often caught more than anyone else. Ted’s daughter, Summer, said that when they were cleaning up on the Darlin Michele this week they found a notebook of line drawings and squiggles, with their names, and the names of family pets, on each page. Ted's six kids puzzled over it for some time before figuring out that it was a kind of shorthand code - Ted had named his favorite areas, sets, and even gear after them. It has been 15 years since all of the children fished with Ted (the two youngest were his deckhands this summer), but Summer said this way her father still kept them all with him whenever he was away from home. That will be a comfort, someday. As one of the neighbors said, she had no idea when she moved here that the beautiful sea we all love to look at, and which gives us so much, could cause such pain. At the same time, what’s not to love about a fisherman? They are northern cowboys, and it’s impossible not to let our babies who have that yen not to grow up to be one. I talked about that with a friend on a morning walk during the first snowfall of the season. Afterward, I brewed some tea, checked the mail, and thought how right it feels to have heaven’s shades drawn. I don't have to see that killer view today. In the soft silence of the new snow, I think I can even hear a bit of that peaceful hymn which passes all understanding, and if I look hard enough I might see my granddaughter’s Grandpa Ted smiling somewhere way above the mountain-tops. Or at least I wish I could. I do know for sure that that little baby’s eyes are Ted’s, and she has the sweet Lynch smile, and that her father loves her like Ted loved him. As my own father likes to say, usually with a big sigh, "And so it goes." That's the way the reel of life turns in a fishing family.