Alaskan Vacation

Dad died on April Fools day, 2002 after battling long and hard with the debilitating affects of a strange side affect of rheumatoid arthritis.  I thought I truly knew my father, but after he passed I started hearing stories about him that I didn’t know anything about (those are other writings, for other times).  Nothing that changed my impression of him, but made me understand why he did the things he did sometimes.  He helped make me who I am today so I suppose the events of his younger days helped shape me as well.

Dad always had a desire to see Alaska.  He read books and travel magazines about it and watched anything on television he could about it.  Had I had the funds, I would have loved to gone with him on that vacation as I’d love to see it too, but that wasn’t in the cards and my father passed away never seeing the northern lights or the snowy fjords of the inland passage.  My siblings, mother and I concocted a “vacation” during which we would mail the container within which my fathers cremated remains were placed to Alaska.  Dad would finally get that trip he always wanted.  We phoned the post master in Anchorage and asked if we could mail him a package for him to postmark it and send it back.  He asked what it was and we explained the entire story, but we were informed that it was illegal to mail human remains through the US Postal Service.  He also informed us that we could not mail anything to him and have it sent back to us.  Foiled!

As luck would have it, my fathers closest childhood friend, who I have always called Uncle happened to know someone that was stationed in Alaska with the Coast Guard.  So, with

Uncle Butch’s help, we re-wrapped the package that my fathers ashes were in, affixed appropriate postage, and sent him on his Alaskan vacation.  After a couple of weeks, the sailor in the Coast Guard still hadn’t received the package (he was “in” on it, and happy to help us) and shortly thereafter he had to leave Alaska for his next assignment.  Dad never got to him.

For those of you who knew my dad I don’t have to tell you this, but for those who didn’t it is important to point out that my father was a very funny man, and if it were anyone else, he would have been the ring leader of this operation.  It was actually fitting that dad would get “lost in the mail,” his final practical joke.

Fast forward three months:  We have all since come to grips with the fact that we lost our dad… not like an Alzheimer’s patient wanders off… we put him in a box and mailed him off to points unknown (apparently).  Dad is often on my mind but I’m moving on when one day my mother calls.

“Guess who’s home.”


“Your father.”

Dad showed up back in Lake Tahoe about 3 months after we sent him to Alaska, with a few extra postal markings, but in tact.

Hope you enjoyed your vacation dad.  We missed you… still do.

This story is absolutely true as I recall it. 

Alaska image taken from

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