This, oddly, was the first thing I noticed when I met his granddaughter, Alexandra, on board our ship.
I could hardly believe it, that first night, when I found out what a historic voyage this was. We had on board not only Shackleton’s granddaughter, but the ashes of Frank Wild, his right-hand man; Angie Butler, the journalist who found the ashes in South Africa; Wild’s nieces and nephews from Australia; and a documentary crew from the BBC covering the whole event.
Some background: Frank Wild, who actually had more Antarctic experience than Shackleton, died obscurely in South Africa in 1939. According to his widow, he’d always wanted to be buried next to Shackleton in the Grytvicken whalers’ cemetery on South Georgia Island – but his ashes were lost.
Angie Butler found them, wrote a book about him, and planned this voyage to return him to “The Boss.” We picked up a minister and a tombstone in the Falkland Islands, and we all went to the funeral service in Grytiviken – the now-abandoned whaling town.
The ashes, the minister, and the BBC went too.
Then, flanked by growling seals, we all processed to the cemetery.
Now he’s there, in his proper place …
and we hadn’t even made it to Antarctica yet!