Flotsam and jetsam

I spent the day yesterday sorting through the last (okay, nearly the last) of the flotsam and jetsam washed up in canvas shopping bags into a corner of our lounge room by the tide of our renovations. I chucked a lot of stuff, and that was good. I found homes for a lot of stuff, and that was good too. There’s more to do (and a garage-sale-to-be-had waiting for me in the garage), and I’m very tired, but it’s good.

But I miss my dad.

Our new carpet is fantastic. It warms the house like never before, it’s made me clean out piles of stuff that I’d otherwise leave in place for…for…a lot longer. It’s made me re-look at everything we have and simplify simplify simplify. Our new kitchen windows I love, and have helped me look at our shabby little place with a whole new potential. Our new kitchen comes in four weeks. Once that’s done I need to go to the travel agents and finalise our trip to the US. I’m amazed, truly amazed at the weirdness this year is bringing.

But I miss my dad.

Dad and I didn’t always get along. Most people didn’t get along with Dad that well all the time. Dad was a dreamer, a visionary; he knew what he wanted and he set about making it happen, in his own way. I understand that. I’m a dreamer too, and a visionary. I guess this is the reason I fell in love with a run-down house, because I once saw how beautiful it could become. And now it is.

But I miss my dad.

The thing is though, the important thing, we wouldn’t be doing any of this stuff if he were still alive. We inherited money from him. We are truly blessed in that regard. Dad’s death is making some dreams come true for us.

But every time the phone rings on a Sunday I think it’s him still. He always rang on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes I didn’t bother ringing back if I missed his call, because he prattled on so much about his dreams and visions, things I knew full well would never happen. It’s not like we got along fabulously all my adult life.

But he doesn’t call any more. Not even on a Sunday. His ashes, all that’s left of his mortal body, are in a big plastic box in a paper shopping bag that the funeral home gave me. It’s incredibly, surprisingly heavy. They sit (ironically) in the fireplace in my bedroom, along with the last of the canvas shopping bags of flotsam and jetsam of the new carpet’s tide. I’m not ready to get rid of them just yet, to scatter them or to inter them anywhere. Nothing feels right, not really.

You know what I would do, if this were a story and not real life, if none of it mattered? I’d open that box and l’d take a little bit of those ashes out each time, and I’d scatter them with each new development we’re doing with Dad’s money, as a thank you. I’d lay some under the carpet. I’d put some on the top and vacuum it up with our new vacuum cleaner. I’d sprinkle some on the kitchen floor before the new cupboards go down. I’d bury some in the new patch of land we’re buying next door to ours. And then I’d take the rest overseas with me, not enough to make any government make a fuss, and I’d drop small pieces of ash wherever we go: a little in a cigarette-disposal-ash-tray thingy outside an airport; a little on a lake, a little in a park. A little near a tree, a little near some water. A little in a garbage can in Edmonton, which is the northern-most city in Canada. He never went to the US or Canada. He always expected me to go though. I think he’d like that. And a little leftover for me, to add to the clutter and junk that I’m trying to rid my live of. ย Just a little to keep, to remember.

It’s a bit late to lift the carpet now, but the rest…I still miss my dad. But this, this…

If you see me in the US or Canada, lurking strangely near a garbage can, or checking as I open a ziplock bag near a rose bush, don’t be alarmed. Stop and say hi. And be aware if I cry more than I ought to about throwing out some old lunch scraps, it may be because I miss my dad.

Have you ever had to deal with a loved one’s ashes? What did you do? Have you ever considered taking them overseas? Is that just a little too weird do you think? How do YOU remember, or say thank you, to someone who’s no longer here?


26 thoughts on “Flotsam and jetsam

  1. What a beautiful sentiment. While not in your situation, I understand. I think maybe you should take him with you to the US and Canada. It would be good for your soul and his.

  2. Hi Megan lovely blog. My mum died 5 years ago aged 62 and my Grandma decided to inter her ashes at sea as Mum was was a true miracle born 3 months prematurely on a posh cruise ship in 1948 in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. My Grandma died last October aged 94 and it was her wishes to be interred next to my Grandpa at a memorial site in NSW. You will work out what is right for your Dad. Trust God’s leading. Enjoy the renovations I wish I had the same clarity with my inheritance as you have it will all unfold with God’s help I am sure. Thankyou ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Heidi I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your mum like that. Although an amazing entry into the world. Did she have to prove her citizenship? What on earth did her birth certificate list as her country of birth?
      And thank you.

  3. Life is sooooooo strange. We are making end of life plans – redid the will, set up a trust, filled out our medical directives and selected durable power of attorney for health care. The medical directives opened up an interesting conversation because I was going to check that I wanted my body donated for medical research – education is so important to me. I got this look and I realized that we needed to talk. I think I feel a blog coming on, Megan. Stay tuned. I think you should do whatever is important to you. I think you said you are an only child, and your father didn’t specify so hey – the more places you put ashes the greater the chance you will do what he would have liked. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Wow, that must be a weird feeling Pat, end of life plans. Good, but weird. My grandmother-in-law donated her body to science, and my mother-in-law (her daughter) plans on doing the same. It’s a good idea. Although it’s not until now, thinking about Dad’s remains, that I understand fully what the ramifications of that are. I’ll hop over and read your blog in a minute ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Pingback: Strange Conversations | A New Day

  5. I miss my dad, too. Nine years. Only you know what will be right for the ashes. Don’t rush yourself, take your time in deciding. If you’re not sure, wait. When the right idea comes, you’ll know.

    • Thanks Margaret, I appreciate that encouragement to wait. I’d kind of felt that I should have it done by now (like, gee, there’s not much else going on in my life…NOT!), and it’s good to know that it’s okay to do it when it feels right. Actually, it’s been good to talk about it full stop.
      People have said to me before that the missing doesn’t go away. So sorry you lost your dad as well.

  6. I’m sure you have thought of this, but it occurs to me that there might be a customs reason for not allowing the ashes into another country. And there you would be, with them. But you can check ahead of time.

    • THanks, yes. I’m aware that I should check that out. I actually got the idea yesterday from googling “what to do with a deceased person’s ashes”…it mentioned taking them OS. Customs into the US surprised me with the stuff they WOULD let me take in…chocolate cake, for example, or toast. What the??!!! I’ll google it.

  7. Oh, Megan. Now that I could read it – what a lovely, heartbreaking post.

    My background was not of the best, and I had no loved ones of whose ashes I was given charge, so there isn’t much I can say from experience.

    But I will suggest that your plans are fitting, and right.

    And if I may make a suggestion – lift the carpet. You won’t regret the small investment, but your heart may always grieve the omission if you don’t.

    (And thank you for the prayers. Things are still very harsh, but I’ve got a few windows of being able to sit up and type.)

    • Thanks Andrew. Glad to hear you’re a feeling a little better at least. Hope you’re still on the mend.
      Two weeks until the new kitchen goes in. I think you may be right. I’ll look into it more closely ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Has your Dad ever wanted to go to an amusement park…Like Disney Land?…you could take some of his ashes on a roller coaster ride and release bits as you’re doing the loop da loop….:) Just a thought….

      • Had a thought – maybe you could commission a plaster sculpture that would commemorate your dad, and have some of the ashes mixed in?

        Or a painting – using the ashes to give texture. I used to paint, and though I didn’t use this technique I have seen it done.

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