Monday, March 21, 2011

A River Not Found on Any Map

My Dad often spoke of a river he hoped to someday make it across.  I recall it having something to do with Greek mythology and that he considered it a fairly important matter.  Not having the required fare for passage was a situation he did not wish to encounter.

The name of the river of which he spoke was the River Styx, and you won't find it on any map.  It and several other rivers mentioned in Greek mythology separate the world of the living from the world of the dead.  On the shore of either the Styx or perhaps the River Acheron, waits the ancient boatman, Charon.  If all else is in order, he'll accept one's obolus or payment of silver, and ferry their soul across the river to Hades, where it may be possible for some to journey onward to the Elysian Fields.

Yesterday, in the last few hours of a particularly tough winter, my father passed away.  He was in his 85th year.  During World War II and the Korean Conflict, he served his country as a member of the United States Navy.  While in the Navy he volunteered for extra hazardous duty and was subsequently trained to become an Underwater Demolition Team "Frogman".  Being a UDT frogman entailed swimming in often dangerous enemy controlled waters to perform underwater reconnaissance and, if necessary, demolition of obstacles the enemy had placed to prevent US forces from landing.  Their uniform in the field was quite spartan, consisting only of swim trunks, fins, and a mask.  Their only weapon was a knife.  Because of this, they were sometimes referred to as "naked warriors".  

In a few days Dad should be reaching the river and bargaining with Charon.  I'm already envisioning his hand raised triumphantly upon reaching the other side.


Erik Eckilson said...

I guess its a river we all need to paddle - my condolences on your father.

Tom Basler said...

Sorry about the passing of another of the WWII UDT heros. They were all pretty special.
My father, served in UDT 9.
If you are interested there are some folks (on the web) interested in listing and noting your father and others who served.

Tom Basler

Rob said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing a slice of his life that really speaks volumes about the quality of man he was.

Lis said...

A nice tribute Al.

suep said...

Condolences to you and your family - thinking of you, Sue Pierce

Mike said...

I am sorry to hear of your father's passing.
May you find solace and remembrance in your paddling journeys.

Mike in the green canoe with electric motor.

BERNIE said...

With each paddle stroke and litter removal you add a gold coin in your father's hands to pay the ferryman. Thank You for sharing. I loss my dad in Aug 2009, he was 79, and a vet of the Korean War. I wrote of him in my June blog titled "Walking home-to Dad from Vermont June 2010.
May you continue to have good memories of your dad especially when you are paddling on quiet waters.
Bernie Paquette