“Great-grandpa, tell us about the night you lost Evangeline,” said Pierre.
“Please?” said Pascal.
“Ah, yes,” Great-grandpa said with a far off look in his eyes. “She was the love of my life… until I met your Great-gran of course.”
“I’m not sure that’s a good bed-time story,” said Great-gran.
“Nonsense,” said Great-grandpa. “These kids should know their history…”
“Now let’s see… We’d gone out for tuna, miles and miles out to sea. You couldn’t just watch the weather on TV back then. No, you had to live it. We didn’t have any of those electronic thing-twos to tell you where you were, either. We navigated by the stars in the heavens…”
“Which is why when the blizzard hit, we were helpless, adrift at sea. Mountainous waves crashed over the deck, washing away anything that wasn’t tied down. The whole lot of us almost perished…”
“The storm lasted for days. The sails got wrecked. The mast was covered in thick frozen sea splash. We were all sopping wet and so very cold. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life, not in 92 years. …Well, maybe on my wedding day,” Great-grandpa said with a wink.
Great-gran said, “Tsk!” Great-grandpa liked to kid her, but she played a crucial role in his story...
“Where was I?” asked Great-grandpa.
“You were adrift in the storm,” said Pierre.
“With no hope,” said Pascal.
“Ah, but we did have hope,” said Great-grandpa. “There’s always hope, lads. There was nothing we could do to save ourselves, true. But we did more than just hang on for our lives. -- We prayed.”
“And our prayers were answered. In the distance, between mountainous waves, we thought we saw a light. We aimed Evangeline for it, and prayed some more.”
“By some miracle, we drifted closer to shore. -- Close enough for your Great-gran to spot us out her kitchen window, high up on the cliffs overlooking the bay. She sent your Great-uncle Philippe downtown to try to fetch us. Of course we were all quite young then.”
“By then the storm was breaking up, but it was still treacherous. Philippe rounded up some friends. They were fishermen, too. They knew what it must’ve been like for us, and for our families back home… It was crazy really. No one goes out in a storm like that.”
“It took all six of them to muscle their way through those waves to us. They had to constantly bail out that little boat, too. It was much too small for such heavy seas. They were soaked and half-frozen when they got to us.”
“By then we’d beached Evangeline in a sandbar in the middle of the bay. We’d dropped anchor, but we were stranded there, surrounded by the storm. Philippe and the fishermen helped us board his craft.”
“Because of Great-gran’s keen eye and Great-uncle Philippe and the fishermen’s bravery, not a soul was lost,” said Great-grandpa.
“But of course Evangeline’s anchor didn’t hold. The tide was extra high because of the storm. She was washed under and away. Even the sandbar washed away. Evangeline is still down there, way down deep in the bay, even today.”
“You know Philippe took us home, here, to Great-gran, who had hot tea and soup waiting for us.”
“And blankets,” said Great-gran, “And a warm bath. The mayor offered your Great-grandpa a room in his manor, but he refused to leave his crew.”
“Great-gran nursed me back to health. I had frostbite on the tip of my nose. I’m lucky I didn’t have much worse. Even now my nose gets awful cold and sore in the chill. But that’s a small price to pay for all I gained…”
“But you lost Evangeline,” said Pascal.
“Isn’t the captain supposed to go down with his ship?” asked Pierre.
Great-grandpa tousled the red hair on Pierre’s head. “If I’d gone down with the ship, you boys wouldn’t be here would you? And I wouldn’t have met Great-gran.”
“The Lord works in mysterious ways sometimes,” said Great-grandpa. “You won’t understand all the things that happen to you in this life. It can be hard sometimes, very hard. Life can be dangerous and terrifying and sad. But don’t ever lose hope. He has plans for each of you. And in time, hopefully you will understand those plans…”
“My plan was to catch some tuna,” said Great-grandpa with a smile. “God’s plan was for Great-gran to catch me!”
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