Thursday, April 14, 2011

To The Earth As One.


Though she technically didn't die of a broken heart, she'd only lasted one hundred days.

Alzheimer's had taken him from her years before, his bodily death on January 4th, a mere formality.

Easter dinner was her favorite. Leg of lamb and whatever trimmings go with it. Mint jelly? On meat?

I wasn't with her for that meal. I hadn't seen her since January, when I'd bent over her withered frame, and yelled into her ear that I loved her. Incredibly sad was how she looked, and suddenly much smaller. The only time I spoke to her after that, incredibly sad was how she sounded;

"All I do is sit around and eat cookies."

She'd taken care of him for over half a century.  She never let him eat too many cookies.

I wonder if she was able to enjoy that holiday meal; her first holiday without him would be her last.  She collapsed after dinner and passed away two days later.

A hundred days after Him.

Grampa's ashes had been waiting until the ground softened up enough to accept them.  Now Her's sat beside His, each in their own box.  We put them on his recliner together.  I remember her sitting on his lap in a recliner.

Is it weird to look?  I looked.  The heavy cardboard boxes were covered in black plastic, maybe vinyl.   Inside each box, a clear plastic bag.  Inside the plastic bags? If you know then you know; if you don't, well, you don't.  It didn't bother me though.  It wasn't Them.

Filling the empty space in each box, Styrofoam packing peanuts.  That bothered me.

Their three daughters, all of their grandchildren, several great grandchildren, brought them to the mountain.  Or what passes for a mountain in New Jersey.

A prettier place to put them I couldn't have imagined.  Rolling green hills, tree lined paths, flowers everywhere.  I love cemeteries.

A minister of some sort said some words.  I forget who placed the boxes, side by side, in the small hole.

I took my turn tossing a flower down in and offering up my final goodbye; silently congratulating them on their long life together, and for their reunion.

We lingered after the minister left. Something wasn't right. I felt it.  Others felt it too.

The boxes.  The plastic bags.  The peanuts.

These things an insult to the Them, to the Earth.  They weren't together, not fully.

A decision was made.  My sister and uncle did the honors. 

Out came the boxes.  Out came the bags.  Discarded were the peanuts.

We huddled around the small hole, feeling sneaky and naughty.

The contents of the bags were poured into the Earth, the particles of One mixing with the particles of the Other.

Some of Them took to the wind.  I watched Them fly away.  I breathed Them in.

I thanked the Universe for allowing Them to go to the Earth as One.



  1. This feels eerily similar to what is going on in my life right now. My grandfather is very ill and my grandmother is not exactly healthy. We have a feeling that once he passes she will be close behind. I have seen this happen to so many couples. They cannot physically live without the other.

  2. And I'm crying. Which is a bit of the awkward, as my coworkers are probably suspicious about why invoices make me sad. But this is so beautiful.

    Your writing.
    The story.
    Their love.


  3. Awesome, awesome post. Thank you.

  4. Wow.

    (that word sounds as artificial as packing peanuts in light of this post. still.)


  5. I SO love the outcome. I was thinking exactly the same thing... blend them... mix them...

    Bless their hearts...

    I feel your love for them.



  6. I, too, was so close to my grandmother.

    She was everything to me. She raised me, and I felt so orphaned when she was gone.

    I still do feel like a motherless child, at my age.

  7. This is very touching, as always. Thanks.

  8. That is wonderful. My grandparents passed in a similar fashion; my grandfather somewhat suddenly, and my grandmother a little later, basically of a broken heart. I wish that they could have gone as one.

    But their ashes were scattered in the same location, so I expect that they found each other.

  9. Love, when right, is beautiful. Even in death.

  10. This is just so lovely. Beautiful writing; sparse yet full.

    Sad. But also not. A long life spent side by side with someone truly beloved is what we all want, and what they had.

    My mother did actually survive the loss of my father last year after a good 51 year marriage, but she is definitely un-moored and most days very sad.

    My father's ashes sit still in the box, in my mother's apartment. I think, when the time comes, I will do as you have done.

  11. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!

  12. I would curse you out royally for making me cry this hard during work, but it's too beautiful. Your words are beautiful. I'll have to get you back later..

  13. So beautiful.
    I'm glad they are together again.
    My grandfather passed away leaving behind my grandmother, they were married 65 years.
    She told me she would die of a broken heart.
    Six months later she did.
    And they were together again.

  14. Your words, so spare and well-chosen, are both heartwrenching and healing- all at once.

    This is powerful.

  15. Beautifully written.

    I remember when my grandmother had a stroke . . . she held onto the anniversary of her husband's death. She was never quite the same after he passed.

    Still, another story - my grandfather's cousin loved the Statue of Liberty. Well, she loved Ellis Island. She spend days there volunteering as a guide, if you were one of the people who showed up curious if you had a family member who checked in there, but you didn't have great records, it was likely that they'd send you to Beverly. She died soon after 9/11, and I still remember the nervous "we're going to get caught" as we poured her ashes over a garden behind the museum.

  16. so glad you were able to do this. :]

  17. You're not supposed to make me cry, you know...

  18. I remember going out to lunch with her in NJ at some point, and I can't figure out when it was. I replay this loop in my head of hanging out with her and driving in that town... but I don't know if it was after his funeral, or another time.

    I remember her watching ice skating at that small house afterward. So much of a blur.

    Anyway, this part? I was on complete overload and remember very few details... except for walking around the cemetery with Aunt Alice and Uncle Ted.

    And now I'm blogging in your comment area. xoxoxo

  19. It was Ally's idea I remember....the peanuts not so much. Me, Cate, Jed, and Cara went to the old house in Washingtonville and got to look around. Same woman lived there that they'd sold the house to. She told us how Grandma left her a kitchen full of dishes and some furniture since her house had burned down and Grandma couldn't leave her with nothing. And yes the ghost was still there. Tire swing, dumb waiter where Grandpa kept his polaroid, horse farm across the street, secretary desk in the kitchen, and the Red Room...still red. I was less than a year old when they moves and I remember all of that. I miss Grandma.

  20. How beautiful. Yes, they certainly belonged together.

    My grandmother passed away 11 years ago and I still think of her every day. What I wouldn't give to have one more of her hugs.

    Annnnd now I'm crying.

    Damn you, Tulpen.

  21. Those last three lines are the most beautiful words i've read in just about forever.

  22. crying now in front of my students - I lost my dad 7 years to the day (Halloween, too) after my mom. This ... this is wonderful.

  23. that was heartbreaking and beautiful. thank you for writing this and sharing it with us. (thank you for commenting on my guest post at Love That Max today too!)

  24. I'm so glad you all made the decision that you did. A beautiful way to honor their lives.

  25. This is beautiful. Obviously, your family is, too.

  26. What a perfect way to honor their lives and their love and the family's love for them both.

  27. Beautiful post. You always catch me off-guard and make me feel emotions. Damn you. :)

  28. I know what's inside the plastic bags ((((YOU)))))

  29. Tulpen, this is so beautiful. I have always seen such relationships in awe, I was never close with my grandparents on either side. They almost never cared. So every time, I hear stories such as these, they make me realize how it should have been. Beautiful post. xo

  30. So beautiful, so sad...

    I love what you did at the end, letting them go together, rest together. That's what I want for me when it's my/our time.

  31. I do believe that I actually sighed at the end. Packing peanuts would have thrown the whole world spinning for me too. How can you send two people who spent their lives together into the great beyond with styrofoam? I love that their particles escaped into the wind.

  32. This is so beautiful. What more could you want than a love like that and an ending together. So beautifully told by you as well. Such a story.

  33. So beautiful -- and exactly the right thing, I believe. It's hard to imagine people who would want it another way. Thank you for sharing this with us --

  34. My father's ashes were freed from their box, too. I didn't know him very well, but it just seemed like he'd have wanted that, instead of being in a box. Styrofoam peanuts? For fuck's sake. You and your family did Them right. They will forever be together.

  35. Cemeteries are cool...but I've been seeing a bit much of them lately. Your ceremony sounds beautiful.

  36. beautiful

    I was good til the last line, then you got me.

  37. What a beautiful love story. My grandfather died about 1 year ago from Alzheimer's. My Grandmother died of cancer about 10 years earlier. His Alzheimer's started to show only month's after her death. It is amazing how one holds on to their life for the sake of a loved one and then lets go as soon as they know the other one is taken care of. Amazing story. Thanks for sharing.

  38. You always make me cry xo but I love it!


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