Dad’s Ashes

We have had ‘Dad’ since September. Bev very quickly got over her slight initial reservations about having him to stay. There is a certain awkwardness still to handling the urn – not quite like handling an unexploded bomb – more as one might handle the ashes of a guest to your hotel, respectful, but slightly at arms length. Sitting on the edge of the bed this morning, looking at the cardboard tube on the bedroom dresser it feels quite strange to think that we will be leaving this evening without (half of) him. At the moment I feel OK about this. Having been to Mepal , looked up into his sky and stood in the garden of remembrance it all feels very fitting and I am glad of this.

We give Marshal and Carol a lift to Mepal, the conversation is friendly and questioning on both sides – this is the first time we have spoken properly apart from a phone call the week before. We swing round the corner and I am to be honest, thrown by the large number of people already at the garden – Bob would be pleased at the turnout, even if all but 4 of us are actually here for the main event after his committal.

Marshal begins to explain to me the order of service for the scattering of Bob’s ashes and suddenly I begin to get cold feet – it feels terrible to say, but I don’t want to do it – I don’t know why not, but I don’t want to do it. I call Sandra and I must confess manage to imply that I don’t want her to feel that she is being cut out of the proceedings – she should scatter his ashes. Sandra looks like she is not that bothered about ‘being cut out of the proceedings’, but given the offer I have just made, also knows I have her over a barrel  – she (I must confess I think reluctantly) agrees. At the end of the talk through Marshal remarks in his Irish lilt;

‘Oh and mind it’ll pour for an awful long time – much longer than you think – just to warn ya……’

I think Sandra and I are simultaneously hit with a similar thought (and expression) roughly equivalent jumping out of a plane with a parachute to hear the instructor say – ‘they nearly always open……’

There is a call for silence and the service begins. At the appropriate point Marshal nods to Sandra and she turns to me – of course I go with and walk round the rose beds as we pour Dad onto the soil. I can hear Bob’s laughter after what feels like an eternity, the urn seems no emptier. Sandra, I am unsure whether through the wish to share the occasion with me, or arm ache passes Dad to me. I take the urn and continue round the beds, a steady pour of ashes silently landing on the rich brown soil…..

I become acutely aware that I am in imminent danger of having to do another circuit of the rose beds and perhaps tilt a little more steeply than etiquette might require………..Suddenly I am holding an empty container and dad has left me.

The remembrance service begins and at the point where the last post is played I find myself stood behind Sandra and Bev with an arm round each of their waists, the tears running freely down our faces.

As the assembled crowd move onto the village cenotaph, I find myself lingering at the garden – I want to stay and not bother with the rest of the ceremonies – just to sit with Dad and talk – on our own, but I can’t because that is probably selfish and unfair to the girls…….I pause for a moment, on my own and then follow the procession up the road.

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