Tag Archives: Eda Mae Sagar

Under The Gate

Ever have a day when it feels like someone is watching over you, in a good way?

Saturday was just such a time, when my mom and I went out on a boat to scatter my grandmother’s ashes along the coast near the Golden Gate Bridge.

We’d planned the trip for awhile, but busy schedules and bad weather delayed our voyage.

My grandmother, Eda Mae Sagar, passed away in 2009. One of her wishes was not to be buried, but have her ashes scattered near San Francisco, the city where she was born and grew up. Like Tony Bennett, her heart was always in the city, and I can’t blame her.

My mom and I met our hired captain along a dock in Sausalito. Earlier he’d told us that he does scatterings from a 20-foot Boston Whaler, which he touted as unsinkable. No problem, we thought. But as the boat pulled up, I could see my mom tense up a little. The boat did look pretty small, especially since we were planning to go under the Golden Gate. Don’t worry, I told her, somewhat trying to convince myself in the process. But easygoing Captain Mike reassured us, noting that even if the boat got cut in half, both halves would float. We hopped in and were soon on our way.

The weather helped calm our nerves as well — beautiful and clear, about 60 degrees with only a wisp of wind even out on the bay. We brought extra jackets preparing for a gale, but we didn’t need them. February on the bay often brings some of the best weather of the year, we found out.

As the Whaler slowly moved out toward the huge, elegant red span, the weight of what we were about to do settled in. The gate holds a special place with our family. My grandmother first walked across the bridge in 1937, the year it was completed. Many decades before that, some of our ancestors came through the passage on a boat that had brought them around the horn from the East Coast.

Immediately under the bridge, we met up with the edge of the fierce current that brings water into the bay. There we were surprised to see dark porpoises surfacing quickly, appearing in a flash between their feedings. The water is full of fish, the captain told us, and the porpoises were there to enjoy an easy meal.

We pressed westward, directly under the span. We looked up the see the underbelly of the massive structure, a view not many folks get to see up close.

Captain Mike kept us pretty close to the north tower, in water that was almost strangely calm. We decided to keep going, eventually arriving at Kirby Cove, a spot popular with crab fishermen and within clear sight of the bridge and the skyline of the city. The boat came to a stop. This is the spot, we thought, that my grandmother would love. My mom and I released the ashes together, watching as they sank from the surface into the blue-green deep.

We popped open a bottle of bubbly, which my grandmother always enjoyed, and drank a toast to her. Then, we poured the remainder of the bottle in the water.

As we were set to leave, another boat came over, and the fishermen on board asked us if we wanted some Dungeness crabs. We gladly took them up on the offer. My grandmother would have gotten a big kick of this, and would have said something like, “Why how did you know I wanted some fresh crab?” She looked forward to crab season, and always enjoyed crab salad or cracking crab herself.

The generous fishermen motored away and we basked in our good fortune and the wonderful winter sunshine. We were there to honor my grandmother, and it felt like she was right there with us.


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Saying Goodbye In Knights Ferry

It’s been nearly a week since my grandma’s memorial, and I’m still taking it all in.

Eda Mae Sagar passed away on Nov. 8 at the age of 94.

About 60 people turned out to the Knights Ferry Community Club, a rustic little building on Main Street.

Outside sat the 1956 Volkswagen Beetle she once owned. In the the window was a photo of her with a friend, and the words “In Loving Memory.”

The crowd inside included family, friends from long ago as well as bridge partners and others who live in and around Oakdale.

As I stood up on the stage giving a short eulogy, I half imagined that she might just walk in the front door and start visiting with all of those she loved so much.

I talked a little about her long, rich life, as well as her kindness, class and courage.

But what I really enjoyed hearing were the stories told by others — tales of fun times, visits to her beloved San Francisco and countless examples of her wonderful style and grace.

We ended with a dessert buffet — including angel food cake, which she made often — and a champagne toast in her memory.

We couldn’t have put everything together without the help of family and friends.

It was the kind of gathering my grandma would have loved, and I know she was there in spirit.

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A Blue Christmas, Sort Of

So it started out as a sad holiday season, with my grandma now gone and a lot of the familiar traditions missing this time around.

Everyone who knew Eda Mae Sagar knew that she loved the celebrate the holidays. Not so much in the deeply religious kind of way, but with examples of kindness, class, hospitality and plenty of food.

When she died in early November, I knew Christmas would not be the same. And it hasn’t been. I’ve missed her deeply at every turn. But we’ve still enjoyed ourselves, and remembered her often along the way.

My grandma made may fine dishes at Christmas, including her famous cheese ball, ham and persimmon cookies. My favorite, though, is the most simple: Lit’l Smokies sausages heated up on the stove in Kraft barbecue sauce. And yes, it has to be Kraft. I can remember as a little kid, about the age that A. is now, chowing down on on Christmas Eve on these little bits of comfort. So we made sure we had them on the stove this year, and boy were they good.

As Christmas approached, I wasn’t really in much of a mood to celebrate. Yet with kids, you just sort of trudge forward sometimes.

I got in the holiday spirit along with way through little things we did, like when A. and I stopped a week ago at Peet’s at J and 20th for some hot cocoa, only to follow up with an unplanned skating session at the cool outdoor ice rink right outside. He was so enthusiastic about skating that it was hard not to smile.

And seeing little C. play with her new dollhouse really made my Christmas morning. She couldn’t wait for me to get it out of the box and set it up. She could have stopped opening presents right then. She was so happy.

Later in the day when we sat down for Christmas dinner, we set a place at the table for my grandma. She would have loved the pot roast, which L. cooked in red wine and garlic for hours. The warm scent filled the house. And as we all gathered around to eat and talk, and I thought of how much my grandma would have enjoyed it.

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My Greatest Teacher

I’ve lost my best teacher and a really good friend.

Eda Mae Sagar

Eda Mae Sagar, my grandma, passed away on Nov. 8 at the age of 94.

She looked out for me a lot when I was a kid, and made an extra effort to expose me to the wider world — both through travel and an open-minded world view.

She was a great cheerleader, and was thrilled to hear the latest news about her great grandchildren, A. and C. She loved to talk to A. on the phone, or learn the latest words that little C. is saying.

She was very happy that I’m now teaching journalism at City College. Education was always a big deal for her, and that made me take it seriously from a young age.

She was curious about life, which made me the same way. Her thirst for information, love of reading and appreciation of everyday things made a huge impact on me, and played a big role in my pursuit of journalism.

She got a kick out of hearing about my job at KCRA, and I still remember how much fun she had sitting on the anchor set in the studio when I gave her a tour of the station.

She would often clearly declare how proud she was of me. She said it again and again. It was just nice to hear. Everyone needs someone like that.

This morning for a split second I thought about calling her, as I sometimes did on Saturdays. But I quickly realized I couldn’t.

To say I’m going to miss her is the biggest understatement I could make.

I’ll always be grateful for all that she gave.

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