It was an average late spring day and Gator was up in the birch trees in the middle of his land. The fairly new big Jonsered chain saw was running good. Gator had recently purchased the saw at his friends hardware store in the 40 acre musician neighborhood down in the cities. Old friend Gator washed dishes with and they listened to incredible folk, jazz and bluegrass music with hands in the sink.
So, with the new saw, Gator was cutting light firewood for his also pretty new wood stove to go with his new old farmhouse. City boy, railroad gandy dancer swinging that big saw around with muscles from the steel gang.
Gator saw the mail get delivered about a quarter mile away and set the saw down. He walked the hypotenuse of the field and got the mail. There was an official death notice of Gator’s father in California in the mail. Gator had not heard from Dad since he and his third wife went to her home town in Tanzania. Dad had sent Gator a postcard that had a picture of his ‘new family’. Most of them were working for Jacques Custou exploring the ocean or were involved with climbing Everest and gettng their PHD’s in research of some kind. Kind of felt a little out of it with Dad’s new family. Railroad Track worker on 30 acres kind of at the other end of the success spectrum. Gator had no idea what had happened and did not get an invite to the funeral or the reading of the will for that matter. He quickly called Dad’s phone number and got his uncle on the line. The will had already been taken care of and his uncle now lived in Dad’s ritzy home near San Diego. “He told me I was to be the executor of his will! Gator shouted into the old black Bakelite wall phone. Gator was puzzled until he realized his uncle has the exact same name as his. “What did he leave me?” Was the somewhat broke only son’s question. ‘Nothing’ but we will send you some pictures he took and his camera too. Staggered by the theft, Gator could only say one thing, “I want his ashes, I know what he wanted me to do with them” Uncle and Cousin sent the ashes of Gators father and photos/camera and as a bonus, a metal box with fly fishing hand made flies. His dad wanted his ashes put into a trout stream. They fished together back in the days before the family imploded when Gator was young.
At a folk music gig way up the coast of the big lake, Gator noticed a small stream next to the lodge and in the morning, took Dad’s ashes down to the stream and tossed them in a hand full at a time. There was a surprising swirl of man sized ‘smoke’ over the waters each time. Gator took the identifying metal dog tag and skipped it out in the lake at the mouth of the river. Just like a flat stone would skip. Gator got a triple splash before the metal tag plunged into the water. It was tough goodbye without knowing the story of Dad’s death and not even knowing Dad was ill. He went back home after telling the man that owned the lodge the story. It was a nice place to stay and the owner that hired him was an acquaintance of Gator’s Berkeley house mate. He played with Gator the night before. Good music to get lost in. Old country blues with a 12 string and Gator’s 6 string D28.
About a week later, Gator got another call on the old black wall phone from the lodge owner where the band had been playing. “Hey, just wanted to tell you I caught a really nice Rainbow trout just up stream from the lodge” It felt right to Gator. It was a trout stream, a good one and Gator still remembers those man size swirls of Ash from his brief tear filled ceremony beside that stream. A task well done for his Father.
So, there was no inheritance from Dad’s money but Gator’s cousin did get to send his kids to college with the estate. Gator would have spent it long ago anyway. The memory of that funeral by the river still lingers long afterwards though. It was the right thing to do. The stream’s name is the Cross River. and later in Gator’s life, Jesus became the center of his life. Gator knows about the Cross now. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator