After the phenomenal Heiva performances/competition we began the work of re-provisioning the boat. We needed food on board for three months, fuel for our engine and propane for our stove, all of which are available within walking distance from our anchorage south of the airport. Our first day of work started fabulously, netting Costco bags of nuts and other essentials at a local trading store, but quickly deteriorated when Mark tripped over a low wall while carrying jerry cans to the local gas station to get diesel. Anson and I were able to put our wilderness medical training to good use; without that course under our belt neither of us would have had the confidence to tackle the gaping flesh wound on his shin. A call to my father to make sure we weren’t crazy to tackle the injury on our own led us to the sad news that Carroll (Mark’s mother) had fallen and broken her leg. We quickly transformed into a communication center to follow Carroll’s hospitalization, surgery and post-surgical care, while tending to Mark’s wound, and applying for a week extension on our visas to allow Mark’s leg to heal. French Polynesia is serious about visas: if we overstay we face $8000 in fines and a 15 year prohibition on entering the territory. During this week Devon and I were both sick for several days, leaving Anson as the sole uninjured/well member aboard Anthea. With our visas set to expire on 7/24, Devon and I leapt into re-provisioning action once we recovered so we were prepared to depart if the extension wasn’t granted. Then our laptop screen failed and the iphone’s home button crashed. We shoehorned in trips to buy a monitor and all the cables to run it on board, attempted an iPhone repair center, and closed the loop on the electronics, all before our visa was set to expire. (Incredible that the failures occurred in the first port in three months where it is possible to buy equipment.) The evening of the 24th we received word that we were granted another week stay to allow Mark’s leg to heal fully (fingers and toes crossed) before we must set sail. With Anthea bursting at the seams with food, and her tanks full and propane bottles stowed, we could breathe a sigh of relief, slow down, and fully engage with the reality that Carroll has said she is ready to die.
This is the dreadful part of an adventure like ours: being far away from family members in crisis. We had known that Carroll’s health was fragile when we departed; we gave hugs that we knew might be our last. And when her health worsened just before we departed Mexico, we bought a satellite phone to stay in frequent contact. Those calls every second or third day have kept us connected through these past months and eased the sorrow of separation. But with Carroll at the crossroads, weak after surgery and ready to embrace death just after her 92nd birthday, it is brutally hard to be so far away. Zara, Mark’s sister, has been the enduring support for Carroll while we have been cruising, and her loving care of Carroll is a gift that enables us to be on this journey. Merci un mil fois. During this current health crisis many others have stepped up to provide support. Dear friends Judee and Yvonne have played a crucial role before, during and after the surgery; my parents, Peter and Louise, made the long trek up to Arcata to lay eyes on Carroll, support Zara, and help with the logistics of moving Carroll back to her apartment after she is discharged from the hospital; Carroll’s church community and her loving neighbor Carol have all gathered round during this crisis; Dr. Mahoney and the team of hospice workers continue to provide Carroll with the best and most compassionate and dignified care possible. Thank you, one and all.
We have spent the day letting our hearts open to the knowledge that Carroll is unwilling to continue living in a weakened state and ready to die. We’ve been writing email messages for Zara to read to Carroll and sending her love and light across the seas and skies.
We have a few days left before setting sail, days for our hearts to be full of love and grief for an extraordinary woman who has lived a long, beautiful and loving life. Perhaps upon return to her apartment, her will to live will return, and if so we will rejoice. Yet if this is Carroll’s time to depart, we wish her peace and release her from the bonds of this world with all our love.