My step-father kept his mother’s ashes in the brown mailer box they came in for almost a decade. His mother Margaret expressed wanting her ashes taken to Hawaii, and instead the box lived behind his button-down shirts, in the back of the closet. My mom didn’t want that to be her.
Before her surgery, when we didn’t have a clue she had pancreatic cancer, my mom said she wanted to tell me her wishes in case she died. She hadn’t expressed this to anyone else. I asked if she could wait and tell me in 25 years? She gave me a long hug.
She said she’d like to be cremated and for her remains to be “scattered with the birds in Vermont.”
My mom loved birds. She watched them every day in her backyard and took photographs of them often. And although she lived in Western New York, Vermont had been my home at the time, the place I lived and loved for fifteen years. I was her only child. So her request made sense to me.
But I immediately knew what she meant on a deeper level. She was asking for her ashes to be set free among the trees and sky. Don’t leave me in a box. Promise me my body will fly free.
Translation: Promise me my spirit will fly free.
She died 16 weeks later.