1.19.2010

After Life: Ashes to Ashes




I really didn’t know what to do with Gavin’s ashes, or “cremains” as they are economically, usefully, strangely called. It sounds like something you put on a salad in hell, or a teen pewtersmith in the Revolutionary War, or something French.

But poking around his studio musing on it for just a little while I knew what would work, at least for temporary. Until some redwood tree would show up requiring fertilizer. It was around the first anniversary of his death, almost exactly one month before his second birthday dead.

(Our Francophile foodie friend Shale has always joked that he wants his ashes sent to some special cremerie in France where it can be incorporated into a cheese, then sent back here to be eaten by his friends at a special event. Accompanied by some perfect wine. I’m sure he hasn’t given thought to the playlist, but I bet 3 courses are planned out.)

Gavin had lived, with his mother and grandmother, in Albuquerque for a few years as a baby and toddler. His mother taught at the Indian school there and purchased a few souvenirs on her trips to see the reservations.

There was a special Acoma pot. Gavin used to point it out to me saying that it was the one valuable Indian piece his family had, but it had probably been ruined because of Nana. His grandmother used to burn palm leaves in it during thunderstorms and it was lined with soot.

I took the heavy plastic bag with its twist tie from the solemn cheap plastic box the crematory sent. The whole bag went into the pot and I placed this reliquary next to the Buddha's head in his studio, which had barely been touched.

Six months later I’d hold my Day of the Dead event in his honor and the ashes would quietly preside as we took the hi fi and speakers out onto the lawn for the show.

But it rests there now, nearly four years in total, two and a half years since its filling, looking over the drawing table where he spent most of his energy.

I can’t help but think he’d be pleased with this solution, at least for now.

* * * Comments * * *

11 comments:

ToriFan13 (Samantha) said...

I haven't decided on a final resting place for Jason's ashes either. I keep telling myself that I will know what to do when the time is right. I love the story behind the pot you used. Very touching.

Snickollet said...

I'm still figuring out what the do with John's ashes.

I hate the word "cremains," but I love the cheese party idea.

letterstoelias said...

Elias' ashes are currently in a lovely cardboard box, complete with packing tape. That's how our funeral home handles it if you don't purchase one of their urns. I initially struggled greatly with the fact that the man I loved - big shoulders, wonderful smile, rough hands, etc was reduced to this box.

I am lucky, however, that his carpenter/wood turner uncle (who has an amazing talent) is making 'vessels' for us (we prefer the word vessel instead of urn). He's making 6 in total - one for me, one for his parents, each of his two brothers, and one for each of our two girls for when they are older. The only thing is it will be some time before they're done.

Elias and I never discussed what he wanted - but I can't imagine he wanted to be buried and i didn't like the thought of having to go to a cemetery to visit him.

I have a little shrine of sorts in my bedroom right now - trying to hide 'the box' a little with photos and other personal items, and I guess that's where he will stay for some time.

I haven't yet managed to explain cremation to the girls as of yet - thankfully it hasn't come up . . .

~C~

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

I'm sorry to have friends with the same problems...

Snick and ToriFan,

Look at ModernMourner.blogspot.com for "urn and casket alternatives!" Sister Shirley, the site's curator, has a wonderful aesthetic sensibility and "gets" it, plus humor.

Chelsea,

Ugh, you can learn from my explanation of cremation to my daughter around age 3. See my post, What Short Stack Gets, for the unfortunate details.

X

Supa

Mary said...

My husband's ashes have been sitting in the black box since the day they came back. On our daughter's first birthday, I buried some of his ashes with the remains of her umbilical cord when I planted a tree for them both in our front yard. The rest of them? Not sure. Right now they're sitting on the fireplace mantle he built, behind a Photoshopped picture of the three of us when Hadley was a day old. It had to be Photoshopped because we couldn't get a good one of all of us while he was on oxygen. I think he'd want to be in North Carolina, where we always vacationed, but part of me doesn't want to give up the ashes. Crazy, I know, because keeping them isn't bringing him back and he's not really in them anyway. As someone else said, it was hard to imagine my loving and effervescent Jim reduced to ashes in a small black box. Maybe I'll move them to a better container and delay the spreading awhile longer. We're coming up on the 2nd anniversary; feels as if I should do something with them then. I'm glad you have a meaningful container for Gavin.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Hi Mary,
I'm so sorry for your loss. If you haven't yet, you should meet Mel of Making Tracks (my blogroll under 2007), Fran from Int'l Brotherhood and Hyla of Drop Dead Life (both before 2005). They were all widowed while pregnant.
Forgive me if I'm leaving others out... it's fortunate that we're so connected, but my mind slips often.
Hugs!
X
Supa

Star said...

Don't you just hate that stupid plastic bag. Ugh. And its environmentally unfriendly. Can't death be at least eco-friendly?! ;D

Magpie said...

We had a big fight about what to do with my mother's ashes. Well, not what to do, but who should be there. It's so damned fraught. I love your pot.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Star, I was pretty grateful for the plastic in this case. Last thing I wanted all over my hair... ash is the very definition of lightweight flying stuff. But there is a big industry devoted to ecology in burials & it is VERY interesting.

Magpie, It's always a loaded topic. There's something big about people dividing themselves off from others after a loss... like we all wish to disappear, make conflict so we can do so gracefully. A big weird knot! Thanks for your visit!

X

Supa

Jen said...

My 8-year-old stepson wanted a place to "visit" daddy, so I got a niche to put a bit of my husband's ashes. (I don't care for "cremains" either -- too cutesy). I hated the idea of a cold, dark, sterile resting place, but while trying to figure out what container to use for the ashes, I had a brain flash. My husband loved wine, so I used an empty half-bottle that had held Champagne. I still smile every time I think of it!

The rest of his ashes went or will go into nature -- the coast of Maine, the mountains of Montana, and (on his second death anniversary this April) somewhere in California (a redwood grove, the Pacific ocean, whatever moves me at the time.)

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Jen, sounds perfect! Nice when there can be a little justice in the picture.
X
Supa

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