Sunday, June 28, 2015

Petals on the Paerdegat - a farewell to a friend

Saying a quiet farewell to friend & Sebago clubmate Joe Glickman on Saturday afternoon. Several Sebagoites attended his memorial service on Monday evening. That very moving service (Joe had so many friends) ended with a small paddle-out - one of the OC-6's from NYO came out with five paddlers and one symbolic empty seat, while Joe's surfski, covered with rose petals, was paddled out by two of his best friends from the racing world that he loved so much. One of our Sebago attendees suggested that we take some of the extra petals out to the club to scatter on Jamaica Bay; yesterday, on a day when Joe would've been in his element in the wind and the waves, I scattered mine on the Paerdegat.

Here was the story I put together for an upcoming tribute to Joe in the club's newsletter:

At Joe's memorial service, one of the themes his eulogizers kept coming back to was how he had this way of seeing you as somehow much better than you saw yourself. I loved that because that's exactly what happened the last time I saw him. 

It was back in March. I'd gone to the club to do something or other, maybe paddle, maybe putter, can't quite recall, but I was out in front of the club when Joe comes around the corner with a friendly-looking tower of a man. I recognized the tower instantly of course - you just can't mistake Oscar Chalupsky for anyone but Oscar Chalupsky. At first Joe assumed I must know Oscar already; when I told him that we'd never actually met, Joe of course proceeded to introduce me. 

Now, I'm a good paddler. I know that. But standing there with these two I was feeling very very ordinary -- Glicker's Glicker, and Oscar Chalupsky is a total surfski god -- but then Glicker did that exact thing that everyone was mentioning at the memorial service, telling Oscar a short story with me as the star. He recalled a day when there was a tropical storm moving through NYC and he decided to go out on the bay and have some fun in the wind and the waves. "So I'm out there, blasting around, having a great time, and I'm thinking I've got to be the only person crazy enough to be out there, but then I see another boat and I paddle over to see who it is and it's Bonnie, and she's bobbing around in the waves -- taking pictures!" 

Being me, I instantly had to explain that I was in my Romany, which is a super-forgiving sea kayak (and I think John Huntington was out there with me too) - but still, for those last moments I spent with him (and I had no idea that that would be the last time I saw him, he was a little on the lean side but his usual warm and happy energy seemed undiminished), Joe made me feel like a little bit of a rock star too. 

Goodbye, Joe, we'll miss you. 


LauraEhlers said...

What a lovely and touching tribute to your friend. So sorry for your loss.

bonnie said...

Thanks, Laura. You know, we met through that Women of Midlife group...well, one of the things I'm NOT liking about midlife is that I seem to have started losing people that were not what I would call "old". Joe and I weren't best buddies or anything but he was a warm and friendly presence at the club, I always liked running into him, and it's just so strange and sad that he's gone - he was only in his 50's.

He's got an excellent book about a woman who did a solo paddle around Australia. I just re-read it, he was always after me to review it and I was thinking I should have a go at it one of these days (I'm not much of a book reviewer, I tend to like or dislike books in a visceral sort of way and am at a bit of a loss when it comes to actually putting my response into words). I think I should have waited a while, it was too soon - I mentioned that to TQ over the weekend when he saw the book on my coffee table and he said "You heard his voice, right?". That was it exactly (TQ lost a very dear friend himself a few years back so I imagine he went through that himself).

Maybe it's weird to plug the book now but in case you're curious, here's the Goodreads page for Joe's Fearless. Really is a great adventure story about a really unique woman.