Yesterday something almost extraordinary happened, but not really.
While Mystique motored northward on the intracoastal waterway about 10 miles south of Melbourne, Florida, I noticed a blue sloop about 40 feet in length slowly gaining astern. About an hour later with the wind freshening from the southeast to about 15 -17 knots and the waterway opening up, I chose to unfurl Mystique's jib and give her engines an extra boost.
As I looked behind, they too had raised their jib so my competitive juices kicked in as the blue sloop neared. An impromptu race was on; monohull vs catamaran. And, as I was soon to discover, much more.
After a downwind run of a few miles with both yachts making 6.8-7.2 knots, the sloop Gratitudebegan overtaking Mystique to port. As she passed, I causally peered left, saw her boat name and then noticed to my surprise her home port. My astonishment moved me. I immediately pushed the autopilot button, rushed to my VHF radio, called Gratitude on channel 16 to say hello and introduce myself, but to my utter amazement, I immediately realized I had already been introduced.
When I heard a voice respond with "Henry, this is your brother Tom", I was so dumbfounded, I could not believe it. Before I could muster a cogent thought, I muttered something intelligent like "What?"He then asked, "Are you buying?....and I recognized his voice and his wry sense of humor.I replied "Sure, I'm buying...you know Quakers aren't all cheap, those of us who still are. Where are you headed?""Melbourne Marina""That's where I am headed as well. See you when we get there."
For the next mile or so while both vessels veered to port and headed westward up a channel towards the marina's inlet, I could only imagine the improbabilities, possibilities and questions of what had just occurred. What were the odds? Why did this happen? What does this all mean?
Surely there must be some greater design at work here. Will this crossing of paths lead to some truly special moment or become just some simple random coincidence? I always believe everything happen for a reason. So I could not help consider how the universe had aligned all this. Certainly there had to be some greater significance. I imagined all the circumstantial factors as too extraordinary not to lead to something more meaningful.
Gratitude hails from Oxford, Md.....the same small port where Mystique is registered.
Oxford was at the time Mystique's destination....around 900 miles northward.
My brother and I encountered each other on the intracoastal waterway heading in the same direction.
We both were headed for the same marina at the same time.
If the timing had been a few minutes apart, we may never have known we had crossed paths.
And the burning question was "Might an old personal issue between us get addressed and resolved?"
When our mother died almost ten years ago, my brother, for some yet unexpressed reasons, rejected me. Perplexed by his reaction in 2004, I twice attempted to retrieve an explanation, only to be rebuffed. I even contacted my sister-in-law to ask her what had happened, but she could not provide any insight or understanding into her husband's reaction. So, at the time, I was left wondering, speculating and confused about how I could have possibly offended him and why he had turned away from me when he did. Until yesterday, we had barely spoken in almost a decade.
So after both boats docked at the same marina, my brother, accompanied by Doug, a fellow crew member and Maryland eastern shore-ite, walked over to Mystique's dock to say hello. After some cordial conversation between the three of us about our chance waterway encounter and a cursory look-see of Mystique, I half-imagined my brother might make some subtle gesture appropriate for such an extraordinary opportunity. Wishful thinking on my part. I imagined this occasion could have been a good time to make things right between us...and maybe generate some genuine brotherhood. Only wishful thinking on my part.
After solo-sailing northbound for two days up Florida's eastern ICW coastal route, my first shower ashore at the marina made me feel nearly human again. When I walked over to Gratitude and introduced myself to the other two men on board. I was interested to see if my brother was actually truly interested in having me buy him a beer that he suggested a mere hour ago.
If I didn't admit that I would have embraced reconnecting with a brother I once knew, I would be dishonest. Our chance meeting, while extraordinary in its occurrence, it was apparently not compelling enough to initiate opening any old closed doors. I knew in my heart this "opportunity" wasn't either the time or place to address such an issue. The past issue had nothing to do with why and how we meet in the present moment at this rather remote place. I finally concluded our crossing paths happened because of some twist of fate; not some intended mutual effort on our parts. And, when I realized why this all happened, I recognized I no longer needed to get some clarity about the past. While in some ways it felt like a lost opportunity, the reality was only a confirmation of what I knew to be true.
Choice? Ignorance? Simple-mindedness? Anger? Resentment? Shallowness? Fear? Guilt? Shame? Cowardice? For whatever the reason(s), if is not in a person's nature or capacity as a human being to
address, clarify, resolve, apologize or even forgive, it does no good to open up the "proverbial can of worms".
Both parties can only come together and seize the day if both want to. It may be even more difficult when blood relatives have issues with each other, especially when so much "water has flowed over the dam". Any opening of "past wounds" won't do much to "mend fences."
Some resolution can only happen when both can forgive and forget.
So, knowing this, I didn't fault my brother or hold any ill-will. I did not anticipate a fresher breeze to blow across my bow the next day; I only half-hoped it would. It could have made an extraordinary day even more so, but in many ways it was already. It helped me accept and face the reality that at this stage in our lives, some things will never get shared.
Gratitude's fateful appearance reminded me of my gratitude for what I have in the present. I am so glad and grateful I don't carry the weight and burden of withholding so past burden.