Monday, October 1, 2007

Goodbye, Mr. Kip

Long emotional week for me, in which I've spent a good portion of it hiding in 1977.

With me, life is a big bowl of spaghetti, with all things intertwined and twisted on each other. The theme is still "love"--the lack of it, what people do for it, what happens when love turns to hate, but for the sake of brevity, I guess I should start with Kip.

Saturday was his Memorial. It was, by everyone's consensus, a spectacular day. Spectacular like 9/11 was, clear sky, warm sun, not too hot but not too cool. Very little traffic; everyone showed up at the 58th Street pier in Brooklyn on time. There was a health fair on the pier; free popcorn, and a petting zoo. ("Cow!" PerpetualMotion shrieked at the llama.) Amazingly appropriate for a man who had loved animals. There was a troupe of young kids walking around with t-shirts emblazoned with "Young Dancers"... again, appropriate for a man who made his life first as a ballet dancer, and later on Broadway after he was injured in the Korean War.
We boarded the boat a little after 2P; it had been running ferries out to the Statue of Liberty during the fair but stopped for Kip for an hour and half. People who had been waiting for the next ride out had to be turned away. One older gentleman sat alone at the bow; we explained to him that this was going to be a private sail, and that he might want to get off. He listened blankly, but made no moves, and the as the ferry pulled away, we all shrugged. He would be there for the duration.

There were maybe 18 of us altogether, not counting the Captain, the skipper and the Uninvited Guest so there was plenty of room. The Sun, once he got over his trepidation, felt comfortable enough to move around. Someone kept a hand on PerpetualMotion at all times, but he was fascinated by the speed, the feel and the water. "Juice!" he squealed. As we picked up speed and moved past the Verrazano Bridge out into the Harbor, I went over to UNN1, and she started to cry. I hugged her... I told her I could hear Kip laughing and she didn't say anything, but I knew she was crying because he would have enjoyed the day.

After about a half hour of sailing, the boat began to slow, and the Captain came down and handed out red and yellow carnations. Even the Guest, who we began to joke was Kip, renting a body for the day, and PerpetualMotion got a flower. We stood at the stern of the boat and the Captain explained that he would say a few words, and that we would open up the container that held Kip's ashes. He said that he could tell from the pictures that Kip was a simple, straightforward man, and that he truly would have been happy with the day. PerpetualMotion chimed in with a comment, and the Captain remarked that Kip would have loved that... and he would have.

The container that held Kip's ashes looked like a paint can, no fancy urn, and the Captain said it was merely a container... not a representation of the man, and that his ashes--his remains--were only what was left, and that his spirit would always be around us. "Like a paint can, I'm going to use this screwdriver to open it," he said, and we laughed as he pulled a screwdriver out of his back pocket. The handle was bright orange. He cut the bag inside open, and dumped the ashes--and the can--into the ocean. UNN1 had said that Kip had wanted his ashes mingled with those of pets that they had shared, and so the Captain emptied those containers as well. As we threw our flowers out onto the water, the Sun came over to me and gave me a hug. "I'm going to miss Kip", he said with tears in his yes. "I know," I said. "Me too." PerpetualMotion waved at the water. "Byebye Kip," he said, and the Professor cried. She said later she was awed that he knew.
The boat then circled the flowers, and the horn sounded three times (well, 4, cuz it seemed to pipe one in there for good measure), and then we turned back and headed to the pier.

The Guest, who had sat respectfully apart during the dissemination of the ashes, came inside and helped himself to a sandwich and a soda, along with everyone else. (I have a picture of him but I'll have to add it later...)

I told UNN1 that this was one of the nicest gatherings I've ever been to, for whatever occasion, but the fact that it was a memorial service was particularly important. Viewed in the context of life and death, I'm only 42 and death is hopefully a long way off. And I've never been particularly afraid of dying, but Kip's passing and memorial made me even less afraid. I'll miss him, certainly; his gravelly voice, his laugh, the way he moved his hands when he talked... the fact that he could talk your ears to bleeding. The way that even though age had robbed him of nimbleness and dance, he could still do a little move and you knew what a great dancer he'd been. The Sun and I will miss him, but where ever he is I know he's just fine, thank you, and he's laughing....

1 comment:

Nina said...

I appreciate each of your posts about Mr. Kip. It is clear he and his wife mean so much to you and yours.

Okay, and this is...interesting (spooky)...my word verification word is qyhkip.