Today, I spoke to a friend whose mother recently died. My friend shared that not only had she inherited her mother’s cremation ashes but also her dad’s, her grandparents’ on both her mom’s side and her dad’s side, those of an aunt she had never met, her dad’s sister’s ashes and the cremains of several family pets. In total, she had brought home 10 cremation urns. She said they were all sitting on a bookshelf because she didn’t want to stick them in a closet…but on the other hand, she did not want people to think she hoarded family remains. Stifling my amusement, I told her I understood and asked her if her brother could take an urn (or two or three or four), but alas, he felt for the sake of the family the urns should stick together. My friend shared that letting go was so hard for her family, and I said that was pretty obvious from her collection of urns—at which point we both burst into laughter. When we had finally composed ourselves, she wondered what we had done with Joe’s remains.
Dearly Departed Joe sits on a shelf in the living room in a urn. Inside the urn is a plastic bag secured with a twist tie. We also have a smaller sealed cube of some of Joe’s ashes; it looks like a paperweight. When we were going through the paperwork with the cremation parlor, the director quoted me two prices: one for all of Joe’s ashes and another for a portion of the ashes. I said that I wanted all of them. It just seemed the right thing to do.
We scatter Joe’s ashes on important occasions in our life. Cole and I scatter them on the anniversary of Joe’s death, during the big Chicago blizzard a few years ago; we have taken them to the cemetery where his parents are buried; we scatter them on Joe’s birthday and on Cole’s birthday; and we scatter them every year on Thanksgiving.
On Thanksgiving Day, Dave, Joe’s friend since kindergarten, was already at our house making Thanksgiving dinner with Cole when Joe’s sister and brother-in-law dropped by with a divine lemon meringue tart to enjoy over midday cocktails. After we devoured the tart and enjoyed a cocktail, I scooped some of Joe’s ashes into a soup bowl and we headed out to the front yard to scatter them.
My friend was amazed that we could scatter Joe’s ashes like confetti…and then immediately apologized for the comparison. I laughed and told her that in a way it was like confetti: a celebration of love, family, friendship, cherished memories and letting go. A little ash always remains behind on our hands and our clothes…which, of course, is just perfect because Joe was sometimes a bit of an ash. (Forgive me.)
Do you have cremation ashes sitting in your closet or on your mantle? Odd Loves Company.