Back to the Earth

Pssst. Wake up. I can’t sleep. It’s 4:00 in the morning, I’ve been tossing and turning for an hour. It’s fruitless to stay in bed, so here I am. Watching “Milk’ with Sean Penn and telling you about the strange, sad day I have ahead of me.

I’m letting go of my mother today.

We’re scattering some of Mom’s ashes into the Bay today.

We’re celebrating what would have been Mom and Dad’s golden Anniversary today.

I’m going back to my roots today.

My mom passed away eight months ago from synovial sarcoma. She suffered for two years with debilitating tumors in her neck and face. Surgery and radiation didn’t slow this cancer down- it caught up with her, wasted her away and killed her.

At the end, she couldn’t talk, so she would write notes to Dad. I would go over and she’d have notes waiting for me. One of these notes was her last wish for her funeral- she wanted to be cremated so no one could see what she looked like, then she wanted her ashes scattered into Jamaica Bay. She wanted her final resting place to be the place where she grew up. Where she lived as a young bride. Where she raised her children. Where she died.

Her wake was lovely. Her ashes were in a pretty blue urn, surrounded by yellow roses from Dad. We had a picture of her next to the urn, and a Star Trek pin pinned to the vestment covering the stand the urn was on. Picture boards of her and Dad on their trip across country in the “Marshmallow” and to Hawaii were standing next to the flowers from her family and friends. Bowls over her favorite candy- Jelly Beans- were set up around the room.

The funeral home had never done anything like this before. Usually the body is cremated after the wake in a coffin that costs close to $1,000. My Nana Frances was cremated before the funeral, and Mom liked that idea. I plan to follow in their footsteps. It was so tastefully done. No badly made up bodies for the masses to gawk at. No coffin to purchase. I know a dozen people who don’t go up to the body at a funeral. Face it, it’s uncomfortable! I want to go one further and not even involve a funeral home. I’d like a memorial service at my church then a party. Not that I have anything against funeral homes and morticians. I just think they take advantage of the bereaved. People think they have no other options except to mourn the recently deceased for three days and nights at a funeral home stuffed with flowers that are thrown away after the funeral. Don’t buy me flowers. Buy a 6-pack of beer, drink up and remember my life!

Mom changed her mind in a note a few days later. She said she wanted some of her ashes let go into the bay and the rest interred into the niche they purchased next to my brother in Pinelawn Cemetary. So on Tuesday, we’re putting the rest of Mom to rest behind a pink marble wall next to her son she said good-bye to 20 years ago.

I gonna need my hankie.

Dad’s been keeping the ashes at home. He mentioned a few months ago that he wanted to scatter the ashes soon. I knew their 50th Anniversary was coming up, so I suggested we do it on that day. He’s going to be sad anyway- we should celebrate and do something special. So today, we’re all going to St. Barnabas for the service this morning, then we’re meeting Pastor Baum at the beach in Charles Park. Mom had asked Beena if she would read a specific poem, but we’re saving that for Tuesday. We’ll say a prayer, then set Mom free. I was planning on throwing them a huge 50’s dance for their Anniversary. Instead we’ll go out for a quiet lunch. And prepare for another sad, strange day.

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19

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One thought on “Back to the Earth

  1. Soo, I'm sorry, I didn't know. I went through this 7 yrs ago (seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago at the same time). I think the way you have chosen to honor your Mom is incredibly beautiful and will ultimately be very healing for all of you. Will be thinking of you all.

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