Bohemian sailor and his final resting place, the ocean.
The Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Leila Cordeiro Pereira

Poem: “A Bohemian sailor’s final voyage”


A little over two weeks ago, we lost our hero. Our life sailor went peacefully, but he left a huge hole among us.

He fought bravely against metastasized pancreatic cancer, with his trademark sense of humor and pragmatism. He kept his irreverence, and his hopes up, until his very last moments of lucidity. He made us laugh and we tried to make him laugh, too. This cancer is particularly aggressive, though, and his body was weak. He lasted less than a week in the hospital. His four children (me included) and his wife of 32 years (my mom) were by his side until his last heartbeat in the ICU.

We made sure the last words he heard were “I love you, Dad.”

He had recently turned 75. We had taken him to a Cuban restaurant in Little Havana. He had drunk beer and eaten a lot. He was a Bohemian – meaning he liked to go out and have fun, or receive friends at home, into the wee hours. Often this involved quite a bit of beer. But over the past few years, he had slowed down a bit, and preferred lunches over nightlong parties. He was feeling the weight of old age and didn’t like it at all.

Near the end, he could do next to nothing of what he loved. It hurt us all to see such a vivacious, happy man stuck to a bed, though that didn’t last long. His suffering was soon over. That’s where we find solace.

He was a very supportive dad, a devoted husband, a man of remarkable intelligence and voice (in terms of register and self-expression). He had a very strong personality and temper. He could tell jokes like no one else I’ve known. He left his indelible mark in the way his children think and view the world. He inspired lots of people with his journalistic work and presence, and people paid him many posthumous homages. We were quite moved by such voluminous displays of sympathy and admiration.

My dad loved the ocean. One of the happiest periods in his life had been living for two years on Ft. Lauderdale beach with my mom. He wanted to be cremated and taken to the Atlantic Ocean (which is also the ocean touching his homeland of Brazil). So that’s where we laid his ashes to rest last night.

This is the goodbye poem I wrote him.

A Bohemian sailor’s final voyage

And there you go,
our Bohemian sailor,
following the sea
currents, the fish,
not walking,
but gliding,
not having
to run,
to fret,
to fight,
to make
to fear
older age,
still youngish
in the minds
of your many

There you go,
from ethereal
to eternal,
as you melt
into the essence
you came from –
no annoying
no bills
to pay,
no one to prove
anything to
any longer,
no longer this
port of call.

There you go,
as if you were
and never here
to the sun that
didn’t change
as you became
dust in the wind,
a feather,
a river,
a mountain, still
a tiny thread
in the fabric of
the universe,
a whisper,
but an echo
not to be
as long as your blood
still runs
through someone’s

And there you go,
our Bohemian sailor,
one with the sea
currents; with love
with love
following you
wherever this leads,
we let you
melt back
into the freedom
you once sprang
from – away from
the shackles of
a broken shell,
a beached vessel –
a life too large
to be constrained.

Ana Ribeiro, 1/8/2016


Bohemian sailor and his final resting place, the ocean.
Eliakim Araújo Pereira – April 28, 1941-July 17, 2016. Photo by Leila Cordeiro Pereira.

A Global Studies doctoral degree holder and former newspaper reporter, avid eater, pseudo-philosopher and poet, occasion-propelled singer, semi-professional socializer, movie addict, Brazilian-American nomad. In this space, she will share some of her experiences and (mis)adventures regarding various topics, with special attention to social issues.

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