Saturday, 1 October 2016

Crossing the River

We live in a home across the street from the Puntledge River, a river that flows out of glacier-fed Comox Lake and down to the Salish Sea. It’s an important, salmon-bearing stream; we can hear it roaring when the windows are open,  and we walk beside it almost every day. We love that dear old river.

Opa and Solay like to fish at the river. This photo was taken several years ago. They still like to fish there.
In our wills, we have  opted for cremation and let our kids know about our wishes. “It would be nice, however,” we told them, “if you used some of your inheritance money to buy a bench or plant a tree beside the Puntledge River in our memory.” They agreed. All in the future, which, we hope, is still long, long away. But one never knows. We all have to cross that river sometime.  What if the future arrives sooner than we think?

Our kids are wiser than we are. This summer, in celebration of our 45th anniversary, most of them came home for a hangout with Mom and Dad. They planned  the day and the meals for us – it was lovely. On the schedule was a walk at Nymph Falls Regional Park, a lovely rambling forested space criss-crossed with walking, biking, and horse trails, and fronting on the Puntledge River. A walk by our favourite  river, what could be better?

The little ones ran on ahead, followed closely by their parents, and the RS and I strolled behind, counting our blessings. We rounded a corner, and saw a strange sight: the grandies and a couple of their parents had created a human bench for us to sit on. A little presentation had been planned.

“We’ve been thinking about your bench by the river, the one you want after you’re gone,  and we thought you might want to choose the wording for a plaque now, before we pick it out for you,” said the oldest son. Knowing my family’s sense of humour, this was not a bad idea.  “Sit down and we’ll show you some possible wordings.”

He held out possible signs:

Wet Paint. 
Not exactly inviting.

Come unto me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.
True, but  sacreligious.. This bench is not Jesus.

(a rude Dutch expression, which cannot be reprinted. Absolutely not.

From here, you can watch the river’s downfall. 
Thumbs down: This bench is not meant to be a tourist guide.

For instructions on sitting, please see Comox Valley Manual 3.674
Yeah, right. I don’t think so.

In loving memory of  Al and Jessie Schut.
Aww, sweet! But perhaps a trifle boring?

And finally:

Feels so good to have a snuggle with a person that you love.
Ah, that’s more like it. This is a line in a song I have sung to my grandkids since they were very small. I told my kids I wanted it sung at my funeral, but maybe a plaque on a bench would do just as well.

I believe in snuggling. It’s a very healthy thing to do. The resident sweetie and I, in fact, both love it. Google tells me there is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” We aim to surpass maintenance.

We agreed they could put this wording on our “memorial bench” by the river when the time came. Then they sprung another surprise on us: they’d all pitched in, got additional contributions from Al and my siblings, and our bench would be built NOW. The future had arrived sooner than we expected. Delightful!

The other day, the RS and my sister Sue with her husband Bob, went down for a walk to visit “our” newly installed bench. We sat and had a snuggle. We are thrilled.

It’s waiting for a visit from you, dear readers, too. Come sit and have a snuggle while you still  can. The future is now.


  1. Definitely going to do that.

  2. What joy and love to pass on yet enjoy in the here and now :) :) Absolutely precious!

  3. A happy example of present of living in the present - enjoy the bench and the snuggles