Richard Martin Vienneau

11/01/1945 — 05/10/2023

From Kennewick, WA | Born in Dochester, MA

Richard Martin Vienneau

From Richard’s daughter Elizabeth.

Before my dad met Ceferina and created his beautiful family, Dad created another beautiful family.

My dad met my mother SallyAnn in 1968. Dad was dashingly handsome and intense. He was friends with the owners son at a restaurant where my mom was the hostess on Cape Cod. They hung out on the Cape that summer with her best friend who had a few dates with dad’s brother Bob. Two movie star handsome brothers. In early Fall, Dad invited my mom to a ring dance held by the Mass Maritime Academy. My mom had Dad’s class ring around her neck on a ribbon. She handed it to my dad who brought it to a ceremonial bowl, dipped it in ocean water from all seven seas, and then placed it on his finger. He was now married to the sea.

When Dad graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, he stood, beautiful in his white dress uniform. My mom on one side and Nana, his mom, on the other. How dad looked that day is how I saw him when I was a child… Handsome and strong. Someone who was powerful and different than other dads because of his job that was so exotic to me. His stories about his life at sea were thrilling. Giant waves crashing over the hull of the ship. Having to climb the ships mast high above the deck while it was cutting through the waves out in the middle of the ocean. Trips through the Suez Canal. Participating in the King Neptune Ceremony when he crossed the equator. Close calls in foreign lands.

His relationship to the sea was powerful. It was a necessity for him to be on it, but it complicated home life. My mom, brother Christian, and myself- we missed him and his months away on the ship contributed to our family fracture. Dad and I spent many years healing the fracture. Like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, ( kin-su-gi) we filled those fractures with gold. I am so grateful for the relationship we had.

When I was 4 years old Dad held my hand and walked the length of the street we lived on in Cape Cod, Homestead Lane. My grandparents Sally and Joe (Ma and Papa) built a house at the top of the street and my mother and dad built one at the end. Dad literally built the house with his hands. At the start of the walk he said to me, “From Ma and Papas house to our house is how long my ship is”. Then we started walking. He didn’t speak. Just held my hand and we walked. By the time we reached our house, he was carrying me. All these years later I still am in awe of the size of the ships he kept going.

I visited him on a supertanker years later. Having to climb a rope staircase 5 stories up the side of the ship to get to the deck. The staircase was nothing more than rope with a few wooden steps. It bounced back and forth against the hull with every step I climbed. I sobbed all the way to the top in terror that I was going to fall into the dark ocean and be eaten by sharks. When it was time to leave the ship, after Dad insisted it would not be possible for a helicopter to come rescue me, something I begged for the entire day I was on the ship. It was time to tackle the climb down back to the tugboat that delivered me. Dad walked in front of me to break my fall if I tripped. He said he would catch me if I lost my footing. He told me to hold his hand and we walked.

I miss you Dad. I hope you know how loved you were by the two families you created. From those days back on Homestead Lane to now.

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Richard Martin Vienneau

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