In the course of a lifetime there are sometimes moments when wonderful and terrible happenings occur simultaneously. Such was the case with Anna Nicole Smith when the death of a son and the birth of a daughter happened within days of each other. Friends of Charlie’s, live-aboard cruisers turned charter yacht operators in the Virgin Islands had something similar happen to them:
Brian and Margaret’s son Joe hadn’t been back to see his parents for over three years. At med. school in the States he worked hard at his studies and during time off he worked in a bar to help pay his considerable expenses. Brian and Margaret were nearly always broke but one day they received a substantial deposit and sent five hundred bucks up to Joe to help pay for a visit. Soon it was all arranged and the happy parents were overjoyed, “We’ll pick you up at the airport. We’ll prepare your favourite Chinese food, you can have the aft cabin, we’ll get the kayak ready.”
The big day arrived and – big anti-climax – the couple’s little dog, Alpo, died. He’d been a crew member for twelve years, now there he was, belly up on the cabin sole. Margaret cried her eyes out and Brian couldn’t console her. After another half hour they knew they would be late for their rendezvous at the airport – what to do? Brian got a plastic bag and placed Alpo in it and put him in the fridge. They left for the airport.
They were almost an hour late. They searched high and low for Joe but couldn’t find him. Then someone said he’d caught a cab. Brian and Margaret were dismayed. They couldn’t believe how things were turning out.
Joe was a little disappointed but he knew life in the islands. The taxi drove him to the bay, he got a ride out to the family boat and threw his stuff below. He went straight to the fridge for a cold beer and – saw the dog! Alpo was lying next to the Chinese noodles and the sweet and sour sauce. Joe’s mind was racing. He’d heard of ‘killing the fatted calf’ but this was ridiculous.
Finally Brian and Margaret arrived back from the airport and there was much hugging and kissing, the chatter gushing. “You must be starving,” said Margaret, “I’ll get dinner going.” Joe was absolutely famished. “Actually, I’m not hungry at all,” he lied; he couldn’t get Alpo out of his mind. Then Brian produced a grocery bag with two crispy, golden brown ducks inside. Joe sighed with relief and relayed his fears to his Ma and Pa. They all laughed, “I really thought you were going to wok the dog,” said Joe.
They uncorked a chilled bottle of white wine and made two toasts: one to a happy reunion and one to a safe journey for Alpo – to doggy heaven. They buried him next day.