Sunday, December 10, 2006
Ashes to Ashes
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the saying goes. I picked up Bill’s ashes today. The receptionist asked if I would like help out to my car because the box was heavy. How heavy could it be? It was a box about the size of three bricks, maybe a little thicker. I evaluated the size of my frame and my ability to hoist a 110-pound dog into the SUV, and decided that, no, I would not be needing assistance. I wondered if they had someone other than the waif behind the counter to help me even if I had needed it. We, meaning my mom-in-law and I, had decided against an urn due to the cost and how ugly they were. They could at least have had something with a bike. Besides, Bill wanted his ashes in Torrey, UT so why spring for an urn that would be useless a year from now? I think he would approve of my thriftiness. Nonetheless, it felt quite mundane to pick up the remains of my beloved in a plastic box. I had prepared myself for an avalanche of emotion. Instead, I walk out the door with a box that weighs about 15 pounds, the same weight as the dumbbell I use for bicep curls, dry-eyed, as if I was picking up dry cleaning. Last time I was there I cried a waterfall. This time it just stayed inside. My greatest fear was that something would happen on the way home and the ashes would disperse all over the new car. I didn't want anything to ruin the new car smell, after all! And can you imagine what would happen if.....I'm sure you can. Anyway, I used extra caution on the road and placed the box on the counter when I got home. As I tried to open the seal of the box, which was sealed quite strongly I might say, I almost dropped it on the floor. In my mind I could see ashes exploding all over and me standing in a cloud of dust, like Lucille Ball in the pastry chef episode. So I had a bit of a chuckle and was relieved to find that the bag was secured by an undestructable twistie tie, like we use for sandwich baggies. I'm sure they charged me at least $50 for the twistie. Next dilemma--where do I store the box? Well, since it isn't a visually pleasing urn that cost over $400, I didn't really want to place the box with the address label of the mortuary on the front somewhere in plain view. Initially, I placed it on the floor of the hall closet because there was room, but then I realized I keep the quilted Northern tissue paper there, and I'm just out for the moment. Now, while Bill was especially fond of quilted toilet paper, and he especially enjoyed his reading time in the adjacent bathroom, I felt a little remiss at leaving his ashes in the same space, so I wandered from room to room trying to decide what was appropriate. Finally, I settled on his closet in the office, where I positioned the box between a bunch of bike event t-shirts. Ashes to ashes--who knew it could be so complicated!