The Scattering

So, this is how it’s supposed to work. I’m sitting on my hotel balcony with coffee looking out at the ocean. It’s a little chilly, very cloudy, supposed to rain today, but the al fresco-y setting to sit and write is what I should always have (in my head, anyway) and don’t at home.


We’d had a 3-day weekend to get ready for our trip, so we were pretty much ready to go (I thought). After breakfast and cleanup, I walked to the Avis lot where, once again, they weren’t set up for Preferred people and I had to Wait in Line, but at least this time it moved quickly. The rumors about rental cars being scarce and pricey are true – and it turned out they didn’t have any cars in the class I ordered and had to give me a silver Chrysler 300. Very nice. (driving to Atlantic City, C discovered that it had a sunroof, that was cool)

Found a not-far parking space at home, but far enough that I’d have to go get the car and bring it around to load it. (C’s leg is still effed up, he can barely walk, let alone schlep.) Wasn’t sure the space was entirely legal — depended on whether alternate side of the street parking was suspended, which I was pretty sure it was. Come back home expecting to turn right around as soon as we could get the luggage out the door, and C wasn’t even dressed. ARGH. I very calmly asked him how long it was going to take him to get ready (“oh, a half hour or so’) and then did some checking to make sure my parking space was indeed legal (it was).

You see, The Scattering involved everyone being in Atlantic City at 5:00 pm on a particular dock at the Golden Nugget marina ready to get on a boat. And we were all coming in from different directions. Aunt Joyce from suburban Philly (the easiest), us from NYC, Sam and Dad from Durham (an 8 hour drive) and Tom (Dad’s best friend) from Savannah – flying, probably? But I didn’t want us to be casual about getting down there as soon as we could.

So finally we were ready, and I got all the luggage down to the curb, and went and got the car, and we loaded up and headed out. Drive wasn’t too bad – the Brooklyn/Queens expressway leg, at the beginning of the trip, was the most tedious, but it never came to a complete stop. As always, we hadn’t taken the time to really figure out the car’s audio system, particularly with the phone connected, but I eventually got it playing music and audiobooks, although Google Maps still refuses to talk to us.

We got to the Golden Nugget about 2:00. I’d already gotten texts from Tom that he was there as well, and that Dad and Sam had arrived 10 minutes before we did. (The lady at the registration desk reacted when I said “checking in? Peterson?” with “Eric?” without even looking it up, so I was like “Aha, I see you’ve met my dad.”) Went up to the room on the 20th floor, two doors away from Dad and Sam. Sam had texted – he was taking a nap and Dad and Tom were conferring in Tom’s room. So I went and fetched the luggage, which was harder than it looked (two separate elevator banks – one for the parking garage and one for the hotel, and it took a while to figure out which levels you wanted). Plus it was too much luggage for one trip, but I made one trip anyway because I was determined.

By this time it was almost 3:00 and we hadn’t had lunch, so we went down to the roofside pool, which had a poolside restaurant, and had acceptable (but not at all good) coconut shrimp tacos and caesar salad. Then back to the room (for C) and me to explore. I wanted to talk to the restaurant to adjust our reservation, and also walk the path from the hotel to the dock to see how long it was and how it worked. Once I did that, it was clear that, for C, we were going to need Mom’s wheelchair, which Dad and Sam had brought up with them for our use. So Dad and I met up, went to the parking garage again to get the wheelchair out of the trunk. I kind of had to drag him around because he hadn’t yet twigged how confusing the whole setup was, and doesn’t like to be led. So he was like, ‘wait a minute, which way…” and I was like, “Dad, just follow me, I just went through all of this an hour or so ago.” Turns out they were parked two spaces away from us. Anyway, back with the wheelchair and now it’s like 4:40 and we’re supposed to be at the dock at 5:00 and I haven’t even changed, arrrgh. So I was a prickly bitch from this point on, with no time for anyone’s lollygagging.

“Dad, we’ll meet here outside our rooms in five minutes, ten at most.”

“”Oh, so we’ll see you in the lobby…”



So that happens, and meanwhile Tom is calling me because he ‘s waiting for us in the lobby and no one has shown up.

Get C in wheelchair and out the door, quick hellos to Sam and Joyce, hustle hustle hustle everyone to the elevators and thus to the lobby, picking up Tom.

My family: “So… uh… which way…”


Tom: So did I.

Me (in my head): Tom, I love you.


Sam: Bossy!

Me: Well, we’re late, and you don’t know and I do!

After all that, of course, we got there and Captain Stu still needed 10 more minutes. We confirmed that Dad had the cremains with him, and I pulled out the photo book of Mom that I’d had made and passed that around. And after all that, it really turned out that there wasn’t a time crunch at all and it was a lot faster than I thought it was going to be. We had Captain Stu and Captain Tom and they were both really nice guys.. We were on a little fishing boat called the “T-Wrecks“ that could take about 20 some people, but of course we were only 6+ the two guys. they gave us a little life preserver talk, told us which side would be the “wet side“ as we went out. At some point, Dad pointed out that at least four of us were experienced boat people, so they wrapped up the safety talk a little bit early, and we’re more willing to open up the throttle on the way out.

It in fact got quite choppy when they opened up, and very bouncy, but we were all either under the canopy, or on the benches clinging to something so no one fell overboard. We had a nice time chatting with the guys and with each other, and it really didn’t take all that long to get out to where we needed to get. We needed to be three nautical miles offshore to get to the point where it was legal to cast the ashes, but I hadn’t really had a clear picture of my head of how big that was. It turned out that once we were at the right spot and had anchored, we really were still quite close to Atlantic City, the entire boardwalk shoreline was very visible and right there.

Dad started the ‘ceremony’ with a story of one of their sailing adventures, which had taken place off the coast of AC, essentially right where we were. (Tom had been on that adventure, so they tag-teamed the story). A sudden squall had come up and they actually broke a boom – and it kept going from there. But this led into stories about how brave my mother was, in sailing and in her somewhat-dangerous career, and in life. I shared about how Mom had introduced me to completely-age-inappropriate literature, like detective novels, when I was a kid, because she thought I’d like it and she was right. Sam shared a piece that he had written. Dad read a poem. I sang Finzi’s “Proud Songsters” from Earth and Air and Rain. Capt. Stu read a poem.

He’d also supplied a dozen roses, and we each tossed a handful of ashes in the water along with a rose or two. I think Dad had it in his mind that he’d empty the bag of what was left, but Captain Stu had Charles do it and it wasn’t a big deal. And we were done.

It was short and sweet and lovely. And then we pulled anchor and headed right back. It was great being on the water again, I must say, I can’t remember the last time I had been on a boat that small, and I really enjoyed it. We got back to the dock at seven, way earlier than I thought we would. I’ll have to post a link to Captain Stu’s operation later, because it was really great and I would recommend that for anyone.

We still have an hour until our dinner reservation, but I asked if people wanted to go back to their rooms and freshen up, or whether we wanted to try just to get in right then. People were fine with going in right then, and they were able to seat us, so we all went in, sat, and then immediately went back out again to use the restroom. The Golden Nugget has a couple of nice restaurants, and I had wanted to eat at the Chart House, but it was not open on Tuesday nights. So we ate at Vic and Anthony’s which is a steakhouse, and it turned out to be excellent. Most of us got a filet mignon special that came with spinach and mashed potatoes and chimichurri, and that’s what I had. They were also quite a few people who ordered oysters (yuck), and I had lobster bisque which was amazing. There were some sides of wild mushrooms and potatoes au gratin. Charles and I had cocktails, some had wine. It was a lot of food, but dad and I agree that we should have dessert too. Dad had cheesecake with blueberry sauce, I had the “pecan roll“ which was simply ice cream Rolled in pecans with sauce. You could get caramel ice cream and caramel sauce, but I went with basic vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, and it was simple and perfect.

Sam had left the table early because he and dad had to leave early the next morning. I had been hoping that at least everyone could have breakfast together but as it turned out, the only person available was Joyce. So we made ready to go… And then! The casino had a fire alarm! Alarms going off, recordings of voices asking people to proceed calmly to the nearest exit, etc. The waiters told us that it wasn’t real, don’t worry. But it kept going and when we left the restaurant and went to the elevators, they’d shut them down and we couldn’t go anywhere! And we’re all exhausted and some of us are elderly. So after standing around for a while, Joyce said she needed to sit, and I led everyone over to the nearest lounge. I then excused myself to use the men’s room, then checked on the elevator situation again – ok, everything’s cleared up now. So finally we headed up, made our goodbyes and went to bed. Where C and I slept like the dead we were there to honor.

Followup: Mom’s Ceremony

One thought on “The Scattering

  1. Pingback: Mom’s Ceremony – The Toast Point Page

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