"Me Sink"

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Me Sink"

(A guest entry by Woodie Clifton as told to him by his mother, Peg Griffing)

In response to Dean's tribute to Uncle Ham, a comment was made by my brother Charlie about a story famous within the extended family, one which needs some details.

It was following a sailing race at Point o'Woods during Great South Bays' Race Week of 1957. Our Mom and Dad, the Andons, Nagles, Finks and Kennys had rafted their craft and prepared for the after-race hospitalities.

There were long swells across that wide part of the bay, and one of those was large enough to unbalance me and send me over the stern of the Griffing family's "Canvasback."

All the adults heard the sound of a sizable splash and left the main cabin to head aft to investigate.

After what some felt was a good look around, nothing was to be seen, so most returned to the refreshment area.

Ham took one look at our Mom and offered to stay with her to listen and keep watch.

After the third and longest wave brought the stern all the way out of the water, there I was, gasping for air and looking up.

Ham reached down as I pushed off the bottom and he hauled me out of the water and from under the long raft of boats. At four years old I would never have made it.

It was an on-looker some ways away on the dock that got panicky and yelled:

"Make him cry, make him cry! It'll clear his lungs!"

Ham knew he had to defuse this woman for Peg's sake so he calmly asked me if I wanted him to make me cry.

But I was focused on the event and could only reply:

"Me Sink."

Everyone within earshot burst into laughter, and any crisis was past.

My response became Ham's nickname for me.

Over the years I have heard it called to me from many places. But one time in particular.

I was sitting with Peg in the out-patient dialysis unit when she told me Ham was having another bout with one of his "War Souvenirs" that had remained in his body.

I went up to his floor for a visit but he was sleeping and had all kinds of the wires and tubes in him. I waited but he never even moved.

After a while I started out of the room to check back on Peg, but he knew I was there and wanted me to know that.

With his usual humor I heard a weak, muffled and strained voice utter two words.

"Meeee sssink...."

Thank you for saving this life, Uncle Ham. I really have tried to honor that.


1. Jeanne Speir said...

Best told in the first person.

I laughed. I cried.

Hi Woodie! Been dirt biking lately? Very fond hello to Mary. I hope we get to see "Meeee Ssssink" again in this go-round. Charlie and Steve – are you up to a party?

I'm STILL laughing about how the dear Hero Patriarch Speir, a consummate sailor, beat the Clifton/Griffing odds by getting me to Rick's boat without a soaking in cold, cold water in that damn "dinghy-with-a-sail" in Maine.

You Are lucky Uncle Ham was there, Woodie.

2. Woodie Clifton said...

& Mom

3. Bob Schunk said...

4 years old in 1957? You are just a young guy.

Yup, Woodie was born in '53, the youngest of the three Clifton boys.

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