Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In Memoriam

In memory of Jeff Schiding

December 22, 1963 - April 10, 2015
December 22, 1963
December 22, 1963
December 22, 1963

Jeff at the helm of Serenity with Sophie on the lookout
In life we cross paths with many people who have an impact on us. Jeff Schiding was one such individual for me. I first met Jeff in 1999 when we worked in the same department at work. He always seemed like such a happy-go-lucky person, with an outsized personality, but with a touch of chicken little. Anyone who knew him will know exactly what I mean by that.

Jeff and I became fast friends and after spending hours in a server room working on computers, we soon discovered via our conversations that we both had a love of sailing. He always referred to himself as a wannabe sailor, because he had spent the majority of his sailing time in dinghys and small sailboats. More recently he had acquired a derelict Catalina 22 and lovingly restored her to usable condition. The boat's name is Serenity.

Over the years we would work together for a while, then one of us would change departments. We went on like this until 3 years ago, when I came to work with him again. It was at about the same time that I began the process of acquiring my current sailboat, September Song. Jeff was clearly very excited for me that I was making this big step, and was so interested in every little detail. After my purchase was finalized, Jeff was the very first guest I had aboard for the shake-down cruise. It just so happened that we had a very "interesting" time trying to dock the boat in a slip at Ego Alley in Annapolis. Since that day, Jeff would take delight in telling the story to all who would listen when the subject of my boat would come up. Whenever he would launch into the story to some new person, I would always cringe a little inside, knowing that it revealed some not-so-great seamanship skills on my part. Now I wish I could hear him tell the story just one more time...

We spent hours talking about my boat, maintenance, problems I had encountered and fixed...  He joked with me that someday he would be buying my boat, as he knew the maintenance history and was fairly certain that he could negotiate a fair price.

He was proud of his family and spoke all the time of his wife Jenn and son Zack. Recently they found out that Zack was accepted to Penn State University. That was definitely a great day for Jeff and his family.

Very recently, he had begun his own odyssey of yacht purchasing. He was in the midst of a search and had enlisted the help of a yacht broker to show him some boats. On April 9th, I accompanied him to look at a 32 footer that he was interested in. By the time we left the yard that day, it seemed like he was ready to sign a contract. He was on cloud nine. It was the last time I would see him.

On Friday April 10th, just one day later, Jeff took the day off from work and was home by himself. Sometime that morning, he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. He was 51 years old. They found him on the sofa with his laptop open on his lap. No doubt looking at sailboat listings...

What is dying? - By Charles Henry Brent

"What is dying?
I am standing on the seashore.
A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades from the horizon,
And someone at my side says, “She is gone!” 
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all;
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her;
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She is gone”,
There are others who are watching her coming,
And other voices take up a glad shout,
“There she comes” – and that is dying.”

In the fall of 2014, Jeff's father had passed away after a long battle with cancer. I like to think that the person standing on the shore watching him arrive was his Dad. Reunited with family. That is all we can hope for when someone passes. That they find peace and comfort on the other side.

Rest in peace, my friend, rest in peace...

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