Meditation for Memorial Service

The time my father liked to talk about most in recent years has been the time he worked building commercial fishing boats on Edisto Island in the 1970s and 80's. I was a teenager then and I believed I knew him best at that time. He taught me to sail. Working or playing, our lives usually related to the ocean. On the water things are simpler than on land. He was joyful on the water.


As he died, my sister Nancy was reading to him from The Odyssey. On the water he would use the words of Homer to talk about the sea. “The wine dark sea...” Homer never said the ocean was blue. Our section of the Atlantic never is. Translators believe this phrase refers to a stormy sea. Literally a wine-faced sea. Papa preferred the water rough.

He loved to sail and he taught all ten kids to sail. But the cursing, burning, bleeding and desperation on the water that sailing entails is not for everyone. I was the only one of the ten who also learned to love sailing. I love the big feeling the ocean gives when the desperate moment yields. We would laugh a lot the moment we knew disaster had been averted and the vast, capricious power of the deep would tolerate us, that the sea would humor us for another few minutes or hours or days. For Papa, this added up to nearly 93 years.

The parts of Papa's life are like islands in Odysseus’ journey home. As a teenager I had the arrogance to believe that I knew him and myself best on the water. But there are people who knew him just as well from islands of poetry and performance or islands of academia and linguistics or islands of history and architecture. There are people who knew him from his 70-year marriage to my mother DuBose, or as the father to ten children, and others who knew him through his 66-year relationship to Edisto Island.

In more recent times Papa has been blessed to discover the Isle of Statesboro here and the love of Miss Beth and her community. I know he is grateful for the port of refuge he enjoyed here with you. Even though no one can speak with him now, I am confident I can say thank you on his behalf.

Papa prepared himself for death by reading The Odyssey. I wonder about the longing we all have for the ocean. Do we all have the longings of Odysseus? Do we long to return home? Or do we long for the journey? Now, Papa travels on, as we all must. I know he loves the journey.

About the Author

Nick Lindsay, Jr. is the oldest son of Nick and DuBose Lindsay.