|Subject: Dust in the Wind|
Posted Jun 19, 2005 by ouiskiandzoda
In a previous episode, I had arranged to deliver some mementos of my husband to his family a mere three hour drive away. In late July, the hot season. I carefully chose family items that would remind them of him, time they spent together, you know, "family items." I loaded them in my truck. The night before I was to deliver the stuff, I was faced with a problem not of my making. The ashes.
I have enough problems in my life without volunteering to solve other people's. I just don't need more.
So, I have my husband's creamains in a double plastic bag (since getting an urn did not make sense for a number of reasons). His family want all of them, which I am under no obligation to give. I think it's a good idea for them to have half. His father has had MONTHS notice to get an urn for their half. I wonder if he "failed" to get one in hopes that the awkwardness of splitting them up would cause me to decide not to split the ashes up and attend their family's occasion to spread them, and somehow miraculously make us all like each other (not likely without overt apologies from them under ANY circumstances). I don't enjoy being manipulated, and have met them more than half way on many occasions only to be snubbed or treated as an outsider.
So, being practical, I consider my options on the night before I am to deliver them to his family. Nothing would ever be good enough for their son, especially now that he's dead and therefore perfect. His mother consistently doesn't like anything she does not choose herself. My husband's family have a way of ignoring most of what I say, so it wouldn't do to give them the bags the ashes came in; they include stickers and a metal tag that identify the remains, it is technically illegal to spread remains on public property, and dollars to donuts they would leave something that could be traced back to me. I've spent a great deal of time and energy accomodating their requests, and been treated with no respect for my efforts. It would, I think, prove therepeutic for them to solve their own problem, just once. Someone aside from me ought to face the wrath of the rest of the family. And I don't really care what they think of me, since it's obvious that the function I serve in their lives is to be a doormat.
So, whatever I choose needs to be, well, economical. Convenient; it's about eleven at night, I need to leave my home at nine the next morning, so no time to shop. Sturdy; all the ashes weighed about thirteen and a half pounds, so a shoebox will not really contain them. It needs to be...about the size of a two-pound coffee can. Which I have. My husband liked coffee. Nothing else occurs to me, other than the fact that I'm very close to spending more time and energy on something that I have made special efforts NOT to spend much time and energy on. Besides that, My late husband's father surely has come up with something; if not, it would certainly not be due to any shortcoming on my part. I decide to move on to another task and hope that another option will present itself.
Two and a half hours later, I realize that nothing else seems close to the right size and also something I can do without. I start to rummage through clothsets in search of something else. At two o'clock, I give up. There is nothing else. I do have some masculine all-occasion (no santa claus or "happy birthday" schemes) gift wrap to cover up the label. It is a dignified pattern that, I think, reflects my late husband's taste; it is sober, elegant even. It's two-thirty; there IS nothing else. And it's not really my problem. AND it's become more my problem than it ever should have been in the first place.
I have to leave in six hours, and I need at least eight hours of sleep since my husband died. I wrap the paper around a nice old coffee can (he probably shared the coffee with his father), and get the ashes. They are still in the canvas bag I took to pick them up. I haven't actually looked at them yet; they seem very fine, so I get a scoop to transfer some of them into the coffee can.
There are nails in them. Or large staples. I imagine from the box from the cremation; or maybe for cosmetic purposes--there was an autopsy, then viewing. This stops me, I was not anticipating anything like this. Another bit of reality seeps into my life. I can't think of anything to do about it. I don't have a magnet big enough to sort them out, and sifting them is out of the question, they'd settle everywhere in my house.
Reality. That's what they wanted, isn't it? I scoop about half the ashes into the can.
I still think it was the right thing to do; the coffee can, the nails, all of it.
Explanation to follow.
Hey Ouiski, You have survived experiences far beyond the scope of what most people experience. You've dealt with it as well or better than other people with similar traumas that I have known. I am truly impressed with the wisdom you show in your writings about your experiences. Thanks for sharing.
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