Monday, 9 February 2009

Don't make a Hash, when disposing of Ash.

I'm not feeling morbid, honest but a family bereavement set me thinking. An old family friend died recently and his ashes were scattered at Filey. Evidently he spent much of his childhood there. Now I've nothing against Filey but it won't be my choice. Which begs the question, where would you choose.
I'm a lifelong Derby County fan and have a brick set in the floor outside the ground. It reads' The best of times, the worst of times.' (Dickens, Hard Times.) I have thought of Pride Park as a last resting place, somewhere near the penalty spot. Only the groundsmen go round at half time with garden forks and prod the ground. I don't fancy that one bit. How unsightly, bits of me on the end of a fork, on a windy day the possibilities are endless. I'm serious, honest.
The friend of a friend of mine died young. He had during his short life a love of Combe Martin in Devon. And what are friends for. His friends drove all the way down to Devon, urn between passengers feet for a last scattering of his ashes. Only Combe Martin beach is draughty at the best of times. A walk to the waves, lid off and whoosh, ash was everywhere. Mothers who had just bought their children ice creams were far from pleased, I can tell you. Funnily enough, Harry, the deceased would have found it hilarious. He was always one for a practical joke.
I was brought up a Moravian and attended a little chapel in the village of Ockbrook. In my school teaching days I once took a minibus of what was then called remedial children to the chapel in the hope of educating them. Several had never been out of the town, never mind inside a religious establishment. Only about fifteen minutes into a somewhat laid back trip one youngster presented me with a small quarter full container he had retrieved from under a seat at the back of the church come chapel. A container I doubt we would have ever seen again had it been of any value. It was of course an urn containing someones ashes, placed in a safe place, ready for a memorial service and scattering of ashes in a day or two's time. Only, as Jim Royal would say, 'safe place my a***.' Mind you, it didn't take us long to top up the urn. Remedial they might have been but never call the kids I taught daft. We had the urn topped up in minutes, no one ever realises how much dust there is in the world until you really look. Mixed well and full to the brim, the urn was hastily returned to its original resting place. Well done lads. It was only on the way home that it dawned on me perhaps the urn was never full in the first place! Thank heaven I was not there to see the urn retrieved.
Its a problem to be sure. How many urns plus ashes finish on the mantle piece. I know of at least one case where this is so because the relations cannot agree on a last resting place. But in this technological age there are possibilities not available to 'ash scatterers' of past eras.
Scotty (James Doohan) of Star Trek fame had his ashes sent up into space on Rocket Falcon 1 courtesy of Celestris Inc. (Along with 208 others.) Only nothing on earth, and seemingly in space is ever simple. The rocket failed and finished up in the ocean. As good a place as any, I suppose.
(Its not as if only ashes can be a problem if you don't keep an eye on them. The story goes that Thomas Hardy's heart was placed on a table prior to internment and his favourite cat, Cobby carted it off.)
If you want your ashes close to hand (or heart, or ear for that matter) there are some intriguing possibilities in this ultra modern age. Possibilities certainly not available to your great granny.
One enterprising firm suggests turning the ashes into a diamond. Remember, folks, 'A diamond is forever.' No, then how about a piece of jewellery 'to keep near to your heart.' ( a locket with space inside to keep a few ashes. With the bonus of 10% off orders of five or more. The mind boggles with possibilities we won't go into.) And if you're used to being useful in this world and don't fancy doing nothing in the next life, how about being turned into something decorative; a paper weight for instance. (Engraved on the base free of charge.) I kid you not. Who was it who said there's no peace for the wicked. My apologies to anyone my irreverence offends but honestly, if you didn't laugh you'd cry.
So there you have it, the choice is vast, the choice is yours. But words of advice. Whatever you do, get relations or friends to keep their eyes on any ashes prior to decision making. And don't under any circumstances place them in the care of any of the worlds airlines. Emirates Airlines had a case containing ashes stolen on a stopover in Dubai. (I would love to have seen the thieves faces when they opened it up.) Plus Ryanair also lost an urn plus ashes travelling from Australia to Ireland. No wonder when the world's airlines apparently lose 10,000 items of luggage a day. Perhaps I'll opt for burial after all.


Troy said...

You could specify something like going on the first plane leaving East Midland Airport on the day after your cremation. That way it would be like going on a mystery tour.

Barnacle Bill said...

My father's ashes were scattered at sea by the lifeboat going out over the "bar" in Bideford Bay.
A crossing he had made many a time in his life at sea.
For myself I have thought about asking my daughters to scatter some of my ashes at places I have visited during my time on the "coast" all in European waters so they don't have to travel too far.
Places that have memories for me and, places I would like to introduce them to.
Anyway I hope thats well in the future!

VioletSky said...

When it became inescapable that my mother was dying I was trying to find out what she would like done with her ashes - maybe brought back to Scotland? I added some levity to the discussion by suggesting she could now travel anywhere in the world she might have wanted to go but hadn't bothered. I was hoping she'd opt for Portugal or South Africa. In the end she is around the garden of my brother's house. She never was much for travelling.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great post!

Ha- Troy, I like the idea of the magical mystery tour. :)

I told my kids to plant a tree in a national park with a great view and stick my ashes among the roots.

(Thanks for visiting my blog.) Cheers!

rhymeswithplague said...

Ken, thanks for visiting my blog today! I like your blog. This story reminded me of a family story. My Uncle Leo, who had been in the Navy, lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowas (in the middle of the North Amerian continent). When he died, his ashes were scattered on the Cedar River, which flows into the "mighty Mississippi." Ever after, whenever my Dad was near the ocean, he would make it a point to throw in a rose for Leo.

rhymeswithplague said...

Correction: Iowa. There's only one.

cheshire wife said...

According to my husband there are now restrictions on where ashes can be scattered. So you may have to rethink your plan.

There is an award for you on my blog.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I reckon I'd make a good fertilizer, can't go too far wrong with being dug into the garden :)

Anonymous said...

Hallo Ken. Came over to thank you for vsiting my place and here I have found a quirky post rather like one I wrote leaving instructions for my funeral.

I don't quite see JP having me made into a diamond or wearing my ashes round his neck...he will save them and leave instructions for his ashes to be mixed with mine [or vice versa] hopefully the kids won't want to share us out after mixing and will put us somewhere quiet.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Ken. Thought I'd look in on you and found this very entertaining post, which has set me thinking too!

It also reminded me of a story I heard on the late John Peel's radio programme. A listener contacted him to tell how he had travelled widely during the course of business and because his mother was unable to travel anywhere (because she was ill) she used to enjoy hearing about all the places he visited. After her death and subsequent cremation he had the idea to scatter her ashes in as many places as possible and set about doing just that. She ended up in many, many parts of the world. He was confident that she would have approved. I liked the story. A

david mcmahon said...

G'day Ken,

Brings new meaning to the phrase: winning the Ashes!

Enjoyed your post ....

Susan English Mason said...

Congrats on POTD highlight from David. My ashes will be buried on a hilltop overlooking Mesa Redondo. It's very comforting knowing this.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Sounds like a good idea.

Barnacle Bill
The only problem is, how much ash are we talking about!

Your mother sounds very down to earth and sensible!

And another excellent idea.

What a clever idea.

cheshire wife
Would love to know what the new rules entail. though i don't know how you'd enforce any rules.
havent forgotten about award and passing them on. have problems re computer. thanks for thinking of me.

Rachel Cotterill
another excellent green answer to the problem!

unusual solution to an unusual problem!

Strawberry Jam Anne
Hi Thanks for kind words. good idea!

david mcmahon
vert witty1 How on earth do you find my little blog!

Must admit didn't know what POTD stood for. Even more ashamed to say I didn't know where Mesa Redonda was.

Once again to you all, thanks. Macabre subject but it comes to us all.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

My apologies for my terrible comment mistakes. Perhaps it's the excitement at meeting the famous mr mcmahon!

Carah Boden said...

A friend of ours is a padre in the army and was asked by his best mate to do the honours at the scattering of ashes of his best mate's deceased father. They went to the top of a mountain in Scotland and, you guessed it, there was a strong breeze not adequately accounted for followed by squeals from the sister of 'Oh God, I've got Dad all over my trousers!'

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Talking of hills, just spent Sat night next to Winnetts. See they are messing around with parking. Will ring Buxton in the morning but they are all burocratic idiots.