Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Do you think they'll remember?

Familiar with his verbal intonations, I realized Dad was gulping back tears as he voiced that heartfelt question. My reply was similarly choked up. "Yes, Dad, I know they'll remember."

Oh, how I recall that tender conversation as I drove Dad's wheelchair van from the Anacortes ferry terminal. We had celebrated our family tradition of visiting Orcas Island, Washington, just as crabbing season opened. It proved to be Dad's last trip with us that late July 2007, for he died a few weeks later.

Years before, Dad and our beloved step-mother had attended a medical association retreat to Rosario, and discovered the peaceful allure of Orcas, long before the island became a destination with a capital "D." Although throughout the years Dad took the boys up camping to Cattle Point and other San Juan Islands spots, Orcas was always the treasured family place.

IMAGE: The author's daughters Tam, Carrie and Stacey at
Crescent Lake on Orcas Island, circa 1985,
from the author's private collection.

Dad loved family get-togethers of any sort. Salmon bakes at home - what's that secret recipe anyway? Ivars on Lake Union either via car or boat. The Space Needle dining level for special occasions. I particularly remember the sheer fun of watching Dad interact with my toddler daughters as we "went in the boat for dinner" to the little kiddies' favorite McDonald's up in Kirkland. The pièce de résistance was and is a family retreat on Orcas Island.

IMAGE: Glen S. Player, MD as he surveys the
crab catch of the day, circa 1995, from the author's private collection.
A little too weak to get into the Apple A Day for the 2007 afternoon trip to Jones Island,  Dad encouraged us to make the trip while he'd stay back at our Smugglers' Villa rental. My brother Mike by now had owned Dad's boat for many years, so "Uncle Mike" cheerfully ferried everyone from the nearest point on Orcas, namely Deer Harbor. And so began that afternoon of picnicking and climbing. Yes, Dad. We are talking our children and now grandchildren and we tell them how you first brought us to this glorious place.

IMAGE: Dad's boat and family, 2007, Jones Island, Washington,
from the author's private collection.

It isn't about Orcas, as much as it is about family being together. Orcas provides the backdrop, including poor cell phone and internet access, so you end up talking, listening, laughing, playing, and exploring the island's treasures together. Three generations just hanging out together doing nothing, yet making the most precious memories.

IMAGE: 2007, from the author's private collection.

This past summer Mr. Myrt and I met with family once again up on Orcas Island. On the way out and back, my eyes teared up as we passed the spot where Dad had asked "Do you think they'll remember?" and I choked out once again these words:

"Yes, Dad, I know they'll remember."


  1. I'm so pleased you all remember Pat! Those family moments and memories are special and part of who we are.

    1. Thank-you, Pauline. These memories for the older ones are bittersweet, yet they do shape the lives of each generation. It's a joy to see the delight of discovery in my grandchildren's eyes, and that makes life sweeter. 😊

  2. Lovely piece, paying homage to a loved one, and carrying on his legacy. Does not get too much better.

  3. Pat,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2015/09/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-september_18.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. I enjoyed your story and you had perfect photos. I found it through Jana's Friday Finds.


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