Another different Memorial Day

Sue and Mark Owen of Macushla and the crew of Escape Velocity celebrating our arrival in New Zealand with a bit of bubbly. November 2015.

It was almost time to return our rental car to Sheffield. On the way we wanted to meet up again with our friend Mark in Yorkshire. Since our campervan is already in Scotland, we’ve decided to explore northward rather than return to England, so this will be our last opportunity for a while.

Coincidentally, the best day to connect was Sue Owen’s birthday. Sue was taken by breast cancer four years ago. Jack and I last saw her in August 2016 when we met in Auckland for an Ethiopian dinner before they traveled for what was supposed to be a few weeks’ family visit in England. Sue never came back.

We first met the crew of Macushla at a cafe in Charleston, South Carolina. They were drinking coffee and reading the paper at a communal table when we sat down with our pastries. Jack nudged me and whispered, “I think they’re cruisers, too.”

We were new to the liveaboard life, and we learned they had been at it for 12 years already. We were in awe.

Our friendship deepened during a season in the Caribbean as we bonded in that way you do when your worldview and personalities mesh perfectly. We crossed the Pacific together in 2015, with more special times in New Zealand. So many of our best cruising memories include these two.

It is Mark’s tradition to visit Fountain’s Abbey on Sue’s birthday, a place he told us was very special to them. We were grateful to be included this time, to talk about Sue, to be in a place she loved, and to celebrate her birthday. We were joined by Sue’s sister Hazel and it was wonderful to finally meet her. We’d heard a lot about each other during the years we cruised with Macushla.

Fountain’s Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the ruins of a 12th century monastery on 70 acres in North Yorkshire along the river Skell. It is stunningly beautiful and peaceful. We could see why Mark and Sue loved the place.

The four of us walked the path around the abbey, Jack and I snapping photos of the changing views, all of us grateful for the weather.

We came to a place overlooking the water, and Mark and Hazel lead us to a bench with a breathtaking view. This is where Sue’s ashes are scattered, they told us. She’d wanted the water view. We sat for a while, and thought our own thoughts.

As we get older, and especially living a nomadic life, it’s hard to meet new friends and maintain the kind of social circle more stationary people enjoy. I’ve been fortunate to have forged strong bonds with a few very special women whose friendship I treasure, even when years go by before we see each other again. Sue Owen was one of them. She was beautiful, kind, funny, quirky, generous, passionate, and one of the best storytellers I’ve ever known. I miss her.


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4 Responses to Another different Memorial Day

  1. Kennedy James

    You two are pretty good storytellers yourselves. I enjoy traveling with you without all that damn inconvenience…

  2. Kennedy James

    It wasn’t very thoughtful of me to say how sad it is that Sue is gone. Sorry for everyone’s loss…

  3. The talmud says “you live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew you.” It would seem Sue’s presence in that sense is long and strong. In THB (the great beyond) Sue is likely smiling at your visit.

    Our cruiser friendships do indeed endure and pick up right where they left off. It’s a special bond we share. Thank you for being part of that as well.

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