|April 1, 2017.|
We drove out to Georgetown yesterday morning, and I don't mind saying that it's a strange feeling to have both your parents in the trunk of the car.
My father died in 2001, and it was my mother's decision to keep his ashes with her at the house they shared in Georgetown. When mom began discussing her wishes with regard to her own passing, she was characteristically specific, with one major exception.
They'd purchased a burial plot at Wolfe Cemetery, on Georgetown's west side, and she acquired a veteran's government-issued headstone for them to share. However, she wouldn't commit to whether the ashes should be buried in the plot, by the headstone.
This was left up to me -- bury them, scatter them, keep them ... whatever.
As a sanity mechanism, human beings are quite capable of laughing through tears, When I first saw the fine wooden box containing my mother's ashes atop a table at the funeral home, I was reminded of the aftermath of my father's wake 16 years ago.
We drove back to the house, and I picked up the container holding my father's ashes and carried it into the house, setting it on the kitchen island counter next to the sink.
My mom walked in and didn't skip a beat.
"No, not there," she said, as though surprised by her son's failure to appreciate a hitherto unknown point of etiquette pertaining to urns, remains and their proximity to dishwashing zones.
For once, she wasn't certain.
"I'm not sure. Maybe over there on the shelf?"
Granted, it's not something we think about every day. Eventually my dad's ashes were moved to a corner of the living room, along with the American flag provided by the VA for his wake, as folded in a display case. The items remained right there until 2014, when the house was sold and mom moved to Silvercrest.
Getting back to the point, my parents were pragmatists, and seldom made frivolous expenditures. In this spirit, it seemed appropriate to me to bury their ashes together in the place they'd originally chosen. Yesterday this was done.
It also was the best place, with an adjacent shade tree and enough distance between grave and highway to ensure peace for reflection. To my mind, a crisp early April morning was ideal for dispelling jitters by walking around the cemetery.
Springtime is all about renewal, and the many familiar names on the tombstones weren't depressing or funereal at all; rather, they brought back cherished memories of childhood, sports and school.
These were people who influenced me when I was a child. I looked up to them. They're gone, but many of them as yet exist in my head -- and my heart.
I thought about those chairs in Our Town, Thornton Wilder's play. Throughout my mom's final illness and death, I found myself thinking back to origins, about my youth in Georgetown. In physical terms, I've never lived very far from the place I grew up, though my consciousness has tended to reside thousands of miles away.
This has been by choice, and that's likely the way it will stay, but yesterday I may finally have started making peace with the past. We're all making a journey, and we'll all come full circle in the end. There's plenty of spirituality to be found in this life, whether or not one subscribes to a religious perspective ... and each to his or her own.
It has been a sad, exhilarating, challenging, rewarding, moving and numbing year so far. Life goes on, and so do we.