Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Memory Lost and Found

My dad has no short term memory. On Monday afternoon he could not remember whether he had gotten his hair cut that morning (he had). He remembered signing up (they don’t) and everyone clamoring impatiently for attention (they do), so he gave up his place for someone who wanted their hair cut worse than he did. Hmmmm.

Clearly his boat does not fall into short term memory. From my perspective, he hasn’t had it all that long. After all, he didn’t start boating until after I left home, and this was not his first boat. But he bought this boat 40 years ago, in 1969. It was a day or two ago, wasn’t it?

My mother suffers terribly from motion sickness, so the boat was never a family affair. Ian doesn't fish. I don’t know that he and Meda have been aboard the NaDu-K2 except on those occasions when they were scattering ashes – first my Uncle Jimi’s, then Ray’s. I haven’t been around to do any boating. Consequently, I’ve never had to learn to operate this boat.

Today I went down to the yacht harbor, met one of my dad’s fishing buddies, and learned about starting the engines. They are a pair of BMW diesels and significantly larger than those in an automobile. Or at least the engines in the little cars that I drive! She's not a really big boat, just 28', but she's big enough to go inter-island all the way to Kona on the island of Hawaii. That's 200 miles in each direction. Daddy and his friends regularly took her to Molokai for a weekend of fishing.

All the fluids were within normal ranges – except the fuel. Oh, dear, need to find someone to drive the boat out of the harbor, over to Sand Island, fuel her, then bring her back to her slip. Even the batteries had plenty of water, although they didn’t have much charge. But there was enough to start the engines. One is running beautifully. The other is blowing oil. Now to figure out how to move the engine compartment covers around by myself. Off is not too bad. On is a different story.

Next stop: hospital. My father and I had a real conversation about the boat. I asked him about the reels. He told me there were two Shimano 14-0, three Penn 12-0 and two Penn 10-0 reels – exactly what the fishing buddies had told me. There is a pole for each reel. Lindsay had taken them home while he was working on the boat, so we have to get them from his family. Along with the keys to the boat and the key to the bicycle lock.

I started into the start-the-boat checklist, adding it to my iTouch. Check the fluids. Turn on the batteries, then the circuit breakers. Don’t turn on the Deckwash Pump unless the valve is already opened. Daddy interrupted. "Don’t open the valve. If you forget to close it, you will sink the boat. In its slip." He has.

On the bridge, find the correct key for each engine. Start engines, one at a time. Make sure all the gauges are working properly. Let the engines run 10-15 minutes. Then reverse the list.

Daddy was pleased. Pleased that someone in the family is taking care of the boat. Pleased, I think, to have a real conversation with someone where he wasn’t struggling to keep up. Pleased that his experience has value.

Meanwhile, he wants to come home. The nurses divert him several times daily, then walk him down the hall towards his room. He is happy again. He is "home".

Look for the good things. Find something, and give thanks. Don’t forget to pray ….

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