Sunday 22 June 2008

Ashes to ashes

Three generations travelled together to bid farewell to the oldest. In the car was one grandfather, three fathers, three sons, and a grandson and two brothers. It's an old riddle, but never more appropriate. The brother, the boy and I travelled north to sprinkle the ashes over The impressive rocky outcrop near Leek in Staffordshire. Our journey fun...lots to chat about...and it seems death brings the opportunity to relive our memories...and I hope rekindle our lost relationship. Having picked up the urn (a little's more like one of those sweet jars from which you could choose a quarter of lemon sherberts, or bullseyes, or mints...and so on), we drove from our newly discovered stepmother...actually we'd known (of)her for thirty five years, but it was only eight weeks ago that the old man had revealed they'd been married for four years. What seemed from base camp a short hill walk turned into a climb worthy of an expeditionary force. One of us bounded up like an antelope, the other weazed away from the classic combination of asthma and marlboro whilst the other clung closely to the slope from a recent outbreak of vertigo. A motley crew, but we made it. The brother wanted to send a letter to the father, but unseasonal gale force winds made this a challenge worthy of fitting a rich man through the eye of a needle...when the paper eventually lit, clearly the obstinancy of the intended recipient held true...taking some twenty minutes to burn through. At the point of sprnkling the's amazing how bulky incinerated human remains are, we simply said goodbye, not knowing what else should or could be said. The brother emptied the pot...with ashes flying into the air...much as you might see someone's spirit fly up to heaven in a B-movie. That was it. The end, a few tears...but not as painful as expected...a relief really. Lunch beckoned. Hopefully bonds remade. For the boy, his second funereal experience...and maybe he will see that it can be good to let the pain out and that from death there can be good. I'd like to think so.

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