For folks that have been following the love of my life and my writing, I do not write on a schedule. Certain days call for words, but if those words aren’t there naturally, then I won’t write simply to write. On Maureen’s birthday, that could not have been more true, as our son, Taylor, was the one inspired with the right words for that day. With Mother’s Day looming, I have been wondering for several days whether the right words would present themselves. As is typically the case, there is a lot bumping around in my head, so it is usually simply a question of whether that cacophony will find an appropriate form that coalesces it.
Talking to my father yesterday, it did. I was talking to him about my trip to southern California this week, with a visit to Movember in Los Angeles and the opportunity to speak to a group of healthcare leaders in San Diego. A friend had told me to take the Amtrak, the Pacific Surfliner, from LA to San Diego, and they were right. Not only was it more comfortable than being on the freeways, but it was beautiful. My friend also told me to be sure to sit on the right side of the train on the way down. The right side was important, because that is the side that the beach and the Pacific Ocean will be on. As I shared this story with my dad yesterday, he reflected on P.O.S.H. and said Port(side) Out, Starboard Home.
As I’ve done a little digging on this old British slang, urban myth indicates that on the old P&O (Peninsula & Orient) from England to India, the Portside was preferable for the passage to India since your cabin would be in the shade and out of the sun, and starboard, for the same reasons, would be preferable on the return to England. Apparently, this bit of slang was widespread enough that it even cropped up in the 1968 movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
O the posh posh traveling life, the traveling life for me
First cabin and captain’s table regal company
Pardon the dust of the upper crust – fetch us a cup of tea
Port out, starboard home, posh with a capital P-O-S-H, posh
Doing a little more digging, it appears that it is very unlikely this acronym was at work on the tickets of passengers of the P&O. Acronyms are a 20th century phenomenon, and the term acronym was not even coined until 1940, well after the 1920s’ passages and tickets claiming to be its source. However, the beauty of the term posh is that it is “an entirely plausible and attractive explanation,” as the Phrase Finder site noted. It is not just an attractive explanation for my wonderful ride from LA to San Diego on the Amtrak but a beautiful motif for my life’s journey. Being “posh” on Mother’s Day is an excellent way to coalesce my many thoughts as my journey without Maureen (physically) continues.
As my many writings on the love of my life have already made clear in the months before and after Maureen’s passing, I have had the best possible berth on my passage through life. My 24 years of marriage and my 26 years in the presence of great beauty and pure love were not just portside out but the most elegant of state rooms, the finest of berths to be granted to any person. No matter how long I write or how many words I put on a page, I will never be able to bring ample meaning to our love, a love that continues to magnify and grow as we approach our 25th wedding anniversary this coming July 14. As Peter Pan reflected in the musical at our childrens’ school last evening, “to die would be an awfully big adventure.” I know that my sweetie is on this adventure, because of the many ways in which she makes herself known to us each day. Like Peter, I believe in fairies, because I believe in angels.
In many ways, October 21, 2014, the day of Maureen’s passing and the start of her awfully big adventure, marked the day that my journey on the portside out ended and my journey on starboard home began. I do not know the day that my Lord will choose to bring my journey, my passage through life to an end. I do know this. I still have the best possible berth for my passage through life, for this part of the journey. Although I would cherish the opportunity to spend one more day in our state room with my beloved Maureen, my state room is now occupied by the results of our love, our children, Taylor, Kyla and Katelyn. As I continue starboard home to the love of my life, I now share the journey with them. We miss you sweetie, but we know you are with us on this Mother’s Day, because love is still the compass that guides our ship, both portside out and starboard home.