Hynda's Brother Doug
The following are two of the eulogies written about Doug - one by his son Toby and one by his cousin Kim.
He was a wild man. He has always been living on the edge. From kayaking down alligator infested waters in Costa Rica, living out of a kayak in Alaska for 6 weeks, to his final trip down the Green River in Utah. According to officials he fell 40ft off a cliff and last picture in his camera was a spectacular panoramic view from the top of the gorges that eventually lead into the Grand Canyon. I can only imagine that his last view of this Earth was beautiful beyond words. My dad was a truly kind man who stood behind my sister and I through the toughest of times. While I would cherish to tell him I love him again, there is nothing between us that was left unsaid. We are complete. He was a man who marched to his own beat. He truly loved living on the edge and died doing what he loved. I cannot think of a better way (if there is such a thing) for him to leave this Earth.
My Cousin Doug
My kids asked me what they should wear today.
“Wear whatever makes you comfortable.”
“But….it's a funeral.”
“It's DOUG's funeral. He'd want you to wear something comfortable-- or something you really like, but never have the opportunity to wear.”
“Wear baggy khaki shorts, “ I wanted to say. “And a faded t-shirt, black socks that reach to mid-calf, your sister's 30 year-old glasses that are close enough to your own prescription. Do not bother buying bifocals when you need them. Simply lift up your regular glasses when you want to read, and position the print an inch from your eyes. Squinch up your nose when you need to settle the glasses more comfortably on your face.”
“When you are 45 years old, visit your cousin frequently at her apartment near the beach. Always forget your trunks. Borrow the bottoms to her bikini, the one with the trailing orange sash which sails so beautifully while you are flying kites over the dunes.”
When you are 60, and standing in an airport, (having missed your flight because you lost track of the time while exploring a Honduran park) cajol your eight-year-old cousin into lending you one of the Heelys in which he is circling the floor,
While his mother attempts-in excruciatingly bad Spanish-- to include you in her negotiations for a comped hotel room, (she and her kids having been bumped till the next day) wheel madly around the slick floors of the terminal on one Heely while the reservation clerks mutter. “Abuelo es loco.”
Continue to bug your cousin to give up her struggle for accommodations, because, who cares? Everyone can just as easily camp out in a Honduran park till the next morning's flight. When your cousin successfully completes her quest, complain loudly, even though she has procured you a free hotel room all to yourself.
Doug and I often had deep irreverent talks, both philosophical and gossipy. I will miss those talks terribly. He was my big cousin and I admired so that the conventions of society were of little concern when determining his next course of action.
Showing respect to his memory will not include wearing the perfect outfit, but concentrating instead on avoiding peer pressure and artificial constraints, to explore the world around us and all the glories it has to offer, to respect and wonder at its natural resources, to march to the drummer that calls to each of us alone, rather than wasting time doing or wearing what “they” dictate.
To be kind and curious and loving, to drink deeply of Bumba Juice, whenever it's available. To let your children turn the bathtub into a terrarium in which to raise hoppy toads and salamanders.
At Lucy Vincent one summer afternoon, there were perhaps eleven of us who needed to be driven off the beach and only Aunt Doris's small car. We adults squished ourselves into the seats, pulled the kids onto our laps. Although we had ushered Doug in to sit, he indicated that he was all set and clambered into the trunk of the Corolla, curling up amidst wet towels, sandy beach toys, chairs, coolers, an umbrella.
We drove to Peaked Hill slowly, the chassis of the car sagging so alarmingly we feared for its suspension. Nicky was around three or four years old at the time and looking around inside the packed car, he suddenly asked Lisa, “Where's Grandpa?”
“Grandpa's in the trunk, Honey” she reassured him, and Nick relaxed then, responding, “oh,” as if that was the most logical answer ever, although picturing my own Grandad curled up voluntarily in the trunk of a Toyota is inconceivable.
Though I will miss my cousin Doug deeply-our talks, his values and appreciation of the world, his kindness and ferocious intelligence--- there is comfort in knowing that as my children and I continue to barrel down the highway of this life, we might sometimes be able to pretend that Doug is not gone; that occasionally….. he might simply be in the trunk.