A little over ten-and-a-half years ago, Gee came home for the last time. It was Thursday, June 7th, 2001. She had been released from the hospital, where she had been since May 28th, Memorial Day, for home hospice care. As I carried her into the house, what she said to me was bittersweet. She said, “I’m sorry Dan, it isn’t the cancer that’s killing me, but all the complications. I wish I could keep the promise I made to you when we got engaged, but I don’t know if I can.”
Almost two years earlier, on the twelveth anniversary of my twin’s death, Gee got me to propose to her for the second time. The first time I asked Gee to marry me was on our third date, less than two weeks after we had met. Her reply that time was “No, not yet.” When I asked her the second time, she said yes, and she also told me that she would never allow me to be alone again as long as I lived, knowing how my twin’s death had affected me. When she died, she had thought she was going to break the promise she had made that day, but it turns out that she was wrong.
Somehow, for over ten years since her death, the woman I married has managed to keep her promise. I feel her presence every day, her hear voice in the wind, and see her hand in the weather at work. This may be a strong part of the reason why I generally speak about Gee in the present tense, even ten years after she has passed away. As I wrote in a journal about a week after Gee died, “Mere death is no barrier to a love as strong and true as ours.” I guess I was right.
After Gee’s funeral, Gee’s sister, her friend Woo, my friend Brad and I noticed something strange happening. It never really seemed to rain on us anymore. Bad weather didn’t seem to affect the plans we made, regardless of how bad the weather forecast was supposed to be. Gee, who loved and missed the rain from her time in Seattle, had somehow become a weather goddess watching over the four of us.
Now, some people may say that this is just coincidence, but too many of my friends have seen her at work. For example, on a delivery trip from Norfolk, VA to Marion, MA, we were supposed to be hit by one of the worst squall lines in years. A friend of mine was watching our progress on his computer, comparing the satellite transponder track to the doppler radar track of the storm line. Just as we were supposed to get hit, there was a break, about 10 miles wide, in the storm line, centered around where the boat I was on was supposed to cross it. Even more interesting was the radar image off the boat itself. We looked at the radar and there was a teardrop-shaped bubble, where the winds and rain were less severe that followed the progress of the boat as it made its way through the storm front.
There have been many days where the forecast was rather poor for sailing–rain or overcast skies with little or no wind–yet when we got to the marina, we found blue skies with 15-20 knots of wind blowing. On many days, the summer afternoon rains would hold off until I had packed up the car and left the marina. This was so common one particular summer that a neighbor down at the marina asked me to stay for pizza so that the gelcoat he was working on would have time to cure before the rains started. This has become so common, that one of my crew often can tell when I’ve arrived at the marina by watching the skies clear.
Many of my sailing and boating friends have seen her at work. One friend was getting married in an outdoor ceremony earlier this year. The weather forecast was grim, with a 75%+ chance of heavy rain… I told her I’d ask my beloved weather goddess to intervene, and she had blue skies and sun for her wedding.
One promise I made to Gee was that if her friend Woo was ever to get married, I would be there for the both of us. Well, a few years ago, Woo invited me to her wedding. I had a flight down for the day of the rehearsal dinner, but there was a hurricane sitting over the Newport News region of Virginia, and it didn’t look very promising. I went to the airport anyways, trusting to Gee to help me keep my promise to her. My flight was cancelled, and I was bumped onto a second flight, which was also cancelled. I was bumped onto a third flight, the last of the day to Newport News, and it was allowed to take off on schedule.
When we landed at Newport News airport, the airport looked like the set of a bad horror or airport disaster movie. The airport was on backup lighting, with only about one fixture in three working to any degree. There were almost no people at the airport. What I later learned was that we were about the only flight to land in almost a 20-hour window. When I got to the hotel, after driving through a city that looked like a disaster area, Woo asked me how the drive down was, and was shocked to hear I had flown in. As far as she had known, the airport was closed because of the storm.
The next day, Woo and the bridal party were scheduled to take their formal photos at a park a short distance from the church. The skies were solid overcast with a decent rain falling. Woo was worried that the conditions wouldn’t be right for taking the formals. I told her not to worry. As her limo pulled up to the park, the skies cleared up and we had mostly sunny skies for taking the formals. It started to rain again just as the photo session was finishing up.
My boat, s/v Pretty Gee, is named for my late wife. It has become, in many ways, the temple for the weather goddess. Gee never saw the boat, since I bought it six years after she had passed away. But, I know she watches over the boat, and over me and my friends. While I can not prove it, there is far too much anecdotal evidence supporting her being a weather goddess, if only for a fairly small, select group of people.
I think it is fitting that I write this particular piece about my late wife on this particular day. Christmas was one of the special times that Gee and I celebrated. It is a time of year about forgiveness, grace, love and family. Gee is still the most gracious person I have ever known. She taught me far more about forgiveness, love and grace than anyone else I’ve ever met. I hope that before I die I am able to be one-tenth as gracious a person as the woman I married. I’m still not even close to that yet.
Wishing a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and a Happy New Year to all of my friends and family, especially my beautiful and beloved Ellie. May Gee, my beloved weather goddess, watch over you and your families on your holiday travels.