stinson beach ceremony
For those who didn't attend the memorial ceremony at Bolinas Lagoon on Tuesday morning, let me share some recollections. This was all in accordance with Chuck's wishes and instructions. Rain was predicted as the morning began. The spit forming the inlet between the lagoon and the Pacific is low sand, rimmed with sea grasses above the tide line. Temperature in the mid 50's, light wind blowing from the sea, the group of perhaps 150 friends, neighbors and family gathered on the sand along the inlet. The strong flowing tide was coming in at maybe 4-5 knots as Nancy, Chris, Regan, Peter, Richard and Bear all boarded Ewan and Kirsten Walker MacDonald's 25' motorboat. Chuck had specifically requested an incoming tide, so he could be a part of the lagoon.
As we cast off and proceeded slowly against the incoming tide toward the inlet, a few sprinkles of rain began, setting the tone. Five minutes later, we'd passed the last of the houses lining the lagoon and the spit appeared on our left. The size of the group surprised us all, I think. "Chuck would be thrilled," I mused. Moments later the rain hesitated, and as Ewan rounded us into the inlet and pointed the bow toward the ocean, we heard the first notes of the bagpiper, standing apart from the crowd, closest to us. After the goose bumps subsided, we realized how perfect was this touch.
Ewan gave a bit more throttle against the rushing current, breakers filled the mouth of the inlet ahead. He achieve the desired balance, holding us steady just off the spit. Chris spoke first, acknowledging to Chuck that his wishes were being properly attended, then Regan read a short poem. Peter delivered a prayer, as we all wept. Chuck's ashes had been placed in a wonderful triangular carved wood box that Chuck had acquired during his filming of "Box of Treasures." The lid was held in place by a leather strap, with three golf tees tied in the knot. Chris explained that the tees needed to cast into the water with the tee upright, which we proceeded to do after Peter untied the leather strap.
Peter then opened the box, Nancy expressed her love and grief to Chuck's spirit, and Peter leaned over the port side and began to pour the ashes into the current. We were all crying and hugging each other, intensely moved.
Kirsten hoisted the American flag to the tip of the outrigger, then brought it back to half-staff. Chris then brought out a special bottle of 1865 cognac, 1/4 full, that had been bequeathed to Chuck on his deathbed by Roy Weiss, Linda's father. Previous family sips had followed births of each grandchild. Plastic cups were filled, Chuck was toasted, and then Ewan let the current sweep us back into the lagoon, and headed back to the dock. We went slow, each of us quiet and accepting this stage of our grieving, thanking Chuck for having created special moments even posthumously!