It’s going to be all about how I finally talk my stepmother into parting with my father’s ashes. She will agree that it is about time; they’ve been in her closet since 1988 and this trip she’s taking me and my son on to Kauai in a week, is the perfect opportunity to release his ashes in a place he would have loved to have been able to visit.
At least, I hope she will agree.
I just sent her the email and entitled it, “Idea.” The content is only one sentence long, and not my usual five lines–more like one and a half, and it’s a simple question, though the depth of its meaning is voluminous and historical in our little circle. There should be no need to elaborate on why it’s a brilliant idea; he loved the ocean, the beach, the surf, shells, rocks, the hot, hot sun, and would have loved nothing more in life than to split to a place like Hawaii and spend the rest of his days beach-combing and drinking beers at sunset, on the sand.
A closet is the wrong place.
If I’d had my way, I would have had some of those ashes a ways back, and spread some in places I’ve visited and maybe had epiphanies about life and death, like Zion, or Tulum, Mexico. He would have loved the layers of blue, blue water and the sun-bleached, worn down ruins of the Mayans, the iguanas, and drinking Corona’s at dusk by the sea, but my stepmother was firm about not “taking some out.”
So, it’s been the closet.
Over the last twenty-plus years, since I’ve moved three thousand miles away, we haven’t been able to come up with a plan for my father’s ashes, though we have discussed it several times. She mentioned Key West, a place he would remember fondly, were he still here, or out at sea in the Atlantic somewhere, and it was definitely mentioned that a vacation somewhere together might be an appropriate time.
That was maybe twelve years ago. My stepmom has come out to Oregon to visit me almost every year since I have lived here, I think. That is like close to twenty times. Never once did we discuss spreading his ashes in any of the wondrous places we have traveled to, like Mt Hood, or the Redwoods, or the flower studded cliffs of the wild Oregon coast. I never mentioned it; I guess I thought she would feel that the west coast didn’t really fit into her narrative of him, that he somehow belonged on the east coast.
But now, it’s been so long. I’ve even lived on the east coast for two years recently, not an hour from my stepmother, and somehow, during that time, it didn’t come up, even though we visited some of our old beaches. I might have made a remark about the box when she was cleaning out her closet, but I can’t be sure. Sometimes my commentary only runs in my head, thankfully. I don’t think we were avoiding it. I think it has been so long now that avoiding it isn’t even an issue.
We are headed to Kauai in just six days; me, my stepmom, and my twelve year old son.
And maybe, my dad. If he can make it out of that corner in my stepmom’s closet, with the shoe boxes on top of him. And we will take him down the Wailua River in a canoe, because he loved canoeing, and we will take him to the volcano, and the beach, and we will prop up that brown-paper wrapped box with us while we watch the sunset, sipping beers, and we will say meaningful things about him and tell stories to my son, who will laugh and feel sorry that he missed knowing such a wonderful person, and we will release his ashes to the wind and sea, and later, back at home, I will reflect deeply and write about it, and have some kind of closure about his death.