August 3, 2011

A Quiet End

A few days ago I downloaded all of the photos from my last trip to Virginia. On the flash card I found pictures I had taken the day we buried my mother's ashes. I was torn whether or not to write about it, thinking people don't really want or need to read about the sad events in my life.

It was sunny, extremely humid and hovering around 100 degrees on the Friday morning we buried my mother's ashes. We had a small family service at Fairfax Methodist Church and then drove a short distance to the cemetery for a few words at her grave site. Afterwards I felt the need to stay after everyone had gone and waited while the cemetery worker placed the urn in the ground and replaced the dirt and sod. I found a sense of comfort sitting there alone arranging the flowers on her grave. I couldn't help but think that it seemed like a modest end to everything that had transpired since her illness was diagnosed in early May. All of us hyper-focusing on her illness, keeping her comfortable, getting medications and supplies, hospice and caregivers. All ending suddenly by placing a small wooden box in a shallow hole in the ground and a few short words.

Cremation definitely takes most of the grandeur from the funeral tradition. No big shiny casket, no hearse, no vault, no railings around the coffin, no pallbearers. Definitely a simpler, less traumatic, more efficient way to pass on to whatever the universe has in store for us (in my opinion).

The next day I passed the cemetery while running errands and strained to see the flowers from the road. Late the following afternoon I pulled into the cemetery and walked over to her grave. After just two days of temperatures over 100 degrees the flowers were completely dried out and brittle. I felt I should buy some new ones but never did, knowing that in two more days the outcome would be the same. And plastic? No.

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