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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ghosts Dance

Vineyard Sunrise  photo dee

Vineyard Sunset by dee

Hope wears many disguises.  photo dee
     I am privy to a secret; I think sometimes that, if the word were to get out, this Island would be flooded with visitors twelve months of the year, rather than just the three for which it is most famous. Martha’s Vineyard boasts a rich and wonderful panoply of both heart-wrenching and heart-lifting moments. I have fallen in love again.  The Island, with its ever-changing shores, has claimed me. This place is best described by its skies of scattered light, its plains of wind-blown, grass-flattened expanses and waters whipped to fury one day, becalmed the next. 
Last weekend, my husband’s family gathered from far and near to lay to rest one of their beloved fathers. John’s death was timely, but it was not made easier by that knowledge.   John and and his wife were constants in my life as I grew from a young woman to a wife and mother. They taught by example; John had an unerring moral compass that deeply affected how I viewed parenthood. Equally, he was a generous and kind man who loved to entertain. He taught me there is never enough red wine at a party.  He and his wife, Joyce, were godparents to my daughter.  It was hard to rally for another good bye at the moment. The funeral was rescued by the eulogy his daughter wrote. She captured his essence with humor and love. John’s young grand-daughters contributed their heartfelt reminiscences, then the congregation trundled off to the graveyard.  The same graveyard where so many of my loved ones now rest.  John and Joyce’s headstone rests across the aisle from my mother’s, and two rows away from from my godparents.  I saw the soil, sandy and light, piled high around the hole over which John’s casket sat while a priest read the last words of the service...Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.... Except all I could think was, “No. Ashes to ashes, dust to sand.” I was one of the first to turn away from the gathering to go wait in the car. If ghosts walk, they walked that day at the cemetery. I felt the presence of my past all crowded in one place.
This Island is like that. The past and the present are finely woven. The vertical threads, or the warp, is a compilation of places like Menemsha and Aquinnah and Lambert’s Cove and Goode Ave. and Peaked Hill and Edgartown and Ocean Park and the Campgrounds and West Tisbury and Chilmark and Vineyard Haven. The horizontal threads, or weft, are people whom I have loved like Elsie and Sally and Dale and John and Ken and Joyce and Debi and Richie and Susie and Mimi and Chicki and Roger and Mary and Elizabeth. I am the shuttle that joins the two threads. The resultant fabric is colorful and enduring and not a little bit wondrous.

The particular magic of this place is that even the dead dance here.  Live is as eternal as the waves, the sun, the wind, the rain, the snow and the soil. For me, the Island fabric holds both good and bad memories in tact while I can do nothing but go on continuing to weave new ones. Nothing life delivers is ever wasted, nor is anything ever lost. I hold fast to the beauty all around me. I especially like to watch the sunrise and the sunset because of something rare that happens with the light.  In that exact moment of beginning and ending, I am always reminded that all of eternity is contained within each breath we take. 

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