Thursday, June 10, 2010

A fisherman has died

I must pause in my quest for a quality life and reflect on a life just finished.  My cousin, Steve "Bavis" Paine, is gone. He was so happy-go-lucky, so well liked in the town of Wellfeet.  He went to Nauset High School in the sixties, smoked a lot of cigarettes, surfed a lot, and rode a horse like a cowboy all over Wellfleet before he got his driver's license.  He could whistle to his horse, Joe, a quarter horse, and Joe would trot over, skid to a stop and lower his head to the ground. Steve would put his leg over Joe's neck, and then Joe would lift his head, Steve would slide down and, presto, was sitting right where he wanted to be on Joe's back. He always rode bareback, a saddle was a bother.

I thought this was something that all riders could do, this was a normal way to get on a horse. I have never seen anyone do it since.

Steve became a fisherman. It was a way to get out of small town Wellfleet and wrestle big-time with Mother Nature, because when you are a fisherman on Cape Cod, you go out on the ocean.  My brother went, too, so the two cousins fished together.  Steve and Bud. Steve and Bud. I was upset that I was a female, I was a young mom, I didn't go have adventures like that. The stories were always good when they got back in, BECAUSE they got back in.  A lot of guys didn't.

And so, this went on for quite awhile, and then Steve's younger brother got into fishing, too, and Bud went fishing in Alaska. So, Steve and Dave fished together, two brothers, on a double ender called the Ocean Bird. A very picturesque boat out of Wellfleet. All the tourists would look down on it at the pier, and remark how neat and well painted the boat was.  Take lots of pictures of it as it came in and went out.  Everyone liked Steve. Everyone liked Dave. Dave was quiet.  Steve was the more outgoing of the two, the extrovert.  Very cheerful and kind. I never heard him say anything bad about anyone. Eventually Dave got a "real" job, with benefits, from the munipality of Wellfleet. Steve had an oyster grant. He got into aquaculture and was out on the flats at every low tide, tending his baby oysters.

He had a girlfriend once.  I remember they were such a couple that I think she got my grandmother's silverware when she died, that's how much of a couple they were. But she left him. He was not going to leave Wellfleet, and she was. That was broken heart number one for Steve. And then, twenty years later, another woman who he loved left Wellfleet, she died.  

A few years ago, Steve had a stroke.  It was quite debilitating.  He slowly came back, he could think, he could talk, he could see. He couldn't walk that well, so he had a wheelchair.  His brother Dave would bring him out to the flats in their truck at low tide so Steve could see Dave working their oyster grant.  Steve was still very concerned about how the oysters were doing, how many could be harvested, how did the restaurants like them. But, he was unhappy.  He had been so physical, and now he wasn't.  Dave quit his job to take care of him. They both lived home with their dad. Their mom died ten years ago, right after mine did.

Steve had another serious stroke and/or heart attack the last week of May.  He was brought to the hospital, where he hung on for awhile, but then he just slipped away. Machines kept him going, all the machines... and  everyone prayed. We prayed that things would come out the way he would want them to. And he passed over on Friday, this past Friday, June 4th.

It's been a week now that the first person in my generation has died. He was only a year older than me.  Our two dads, brothers, are 83 and 90. They are still here. I saw my uncle today, and he is conversing sociably with the people who keep dropping in. But Dave is another story. It's going to take Dave a long long time, and I don't think he'll ever get over it. Steve has two sisters, too, and I saw the three siblings together today. There is a definite hole there, Steve was a big happy cheerful part of their family glue.

So we'll have a memorial down at the breakwater beach on June 19.  I will guess that several hundred people will be there. Too many people to fit in a church, because, Steve was popular, like I said. And he felt uneasy going into a church, God is outside anyway, to be found out at sea, to be found under the big blue sky.  We'll all look at pictures of him and swap stories and sprinkle his ashes in the salt water and have a good time in his name, and then we will go home and miss him. It's very hard to say, but, good-bye, Bavis. You've finally gone and left Wellfleet.