When I say that this will be the last time I write, I actually mean it will be the last time either of us writes. There’s no other way I can say it – you see, the Skipper has gone for good. I know he didn’t plan it this way – who does, when the time comes for them to meet their Maker? But I know that he would have accepted with good grace the fact that the whistle had been blown, and full-time announced… My “hunch” that there was something going on turned out to be correct. I finally got Roots and Wings to explain everything to me. I have to say, I did feel irked – and still do, a bit – that I wasn’t told sooner. But I suppose I can understand that everyone was feeling so sad and shocked about the news; and Roots and Wings, bless her, said that she didn’t know how to tell me, and was just “waiting for the right moment”, which, she said, “never seemed to come.”
…When the Skipper left in early December, it was, apparently, to go to the hospital. Although he didn’t say anything to me (I think he didn’t want to worry me), he had not been feeling in the best of health for a while. Anyway, the long and the short of it was that the doctors discovered it was cancer, and a type that was “quite aggressive” at that. According to all accounts, he was cared for magnificently in Warwick Hospital by the team of nurses and doctors, in fact all of the staff; and of course Janis was by his side day and night. He had a fine coterie of visitors, who did a splendid job of keeping his spirits up – though knowing the Old Man, I’m sure he would have been doing the same for them as well. He passed away on the 20th December, and a memorial gathering was held at Tooley’s Boatyard in Banbury on the 5th January.
As you can imagine, I’ve been feeling a bit bereft since I heard the news. I can’t help thinking of all the voyages we still had to make. I know, of course, that a narrowboat will inevitably have more than one owner in its lifetime, often several. But there was something in the way me and the Skipper worked together that felt just that bit more special. We never said anything to each other about it; but I think we both knew.
…So now I have an unknown future ahead of me. I’m quite happy for the time being resting here at Kate Boats; but I suppose I will eventually be moved and sold to a new owner, with who-knows-what plans for me. It seems right to finish the blog now, and I know the Skipper would want me to say thank you and goodbye to all of his readers and friends over the past several years. While Old Salt has now truly found his “Future-Rest”, I, his original Futurest, will go on to waters uncharted, to places undiscovered, to people unmet. And who knows? Perhaps we will meet. Not in this form, not with this name, but in an entirely different life. For now, though, I bid you farewell. And I salute my Boss, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of travelling over the past eighty-two months. I have loved every minute of it.