Sunday, September 18, 2011

Obrigado, gracias, grazie, efharisto, merci

The day after the 2008-09 school year ended, the crew of Juno set off for Bermuda and beyond. Twenty-six months, two continents and 15,000 nautical miles later, the other bookend slipped into place, as the boys began the 2011-12 school year in Virginia. The adventure, at least THAT adventure, had come to an end.

I have stayed out of the boys' blog as much as possible, but wanted to step in here to thank all those who helped make Juno's Journey a success.

To Peter and Denis and Ben and Carolyn and Matthew and Scott for getting us across the Atlantic. To Ann for seeing us to the Spanish Balearics, and to Peter (again) for coming to the rescue and lending us a hand to Italia as autumn's gales closed in. To Mark for donating many hours of sleep on the long Atlantic passage to the Caribbean.

To Tod and Matthew (different Matthew) for their stamina through the shorthanded and sadly fishless passages from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas and from the Bahamas up to the Chesapeake.

A special thanks to Edee, who not only helped get us around and through the Med and across to Bequia, but bore with our quirks and unusual requests (no heels on deck!) with admirable equanimity.

Finally, our biggest and warmest thank you to Mary Beth, aka . . . Mommy, who stayed behind to keep a paycheck coming and (perhaps even more important) get up at 0500 to gather, analyze and then break down the oceanic weather forecasts into 160 character txt msgs to fire off to the sat phone. I cannot imagine having to worry about my spouse and my sons off on a small boat in a big ocean, but that is what she did, with unending courage and grace. Those days we all shared on her visits to Bermuda, Horta, Italy, Greece, Gibraltar, Union Island and Antigua -- those will remain the highlights of the trip, and our warmest memories. Thank you, my love, for letting my dream come true.

The first cold front of the fall passed through the other morning. Orion and I walked to the bus stop, and the brisk air reminded us of two autumns earlier, as the first front passed across Sibari. The mountains that were vague, hazy shapes for our first weeks suddenly came sharp and clear and so close it seemed like we could reach out and touch the snow that covered their peaks.

I imagine there will be many such moments. I hope there will be. My sons have been to more places, seen more of this planet, than most people will in a lifetime. More than anything, I wanted them to understand all that is possible in this life, limited only by our imaginations.

I had that thought this trip would be my great gift to them, something they could treasure forever, a touchstone as they grow and move off into their own lives. I did not foresee how, instead and already, it has been their remarkable gift to me. They were my little boys when we left home. Before my eyes, they have grown up, and have come back thoughtful and capable young men. I don't know that a luckier father has ever lived.
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