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EditorialsUp Front 03/14

Up Front 03/14

A few days ago, on the twelve month anniversary of her death, the last of my sister’s ashes were taken by boat and scattered into the beautiful turquoise waters of a bay in Kenya. I wasn’t there, but I doubt she would have wanted too much of a fuss; no clergy would have been on hand, no hymns or extended eulogy, and it’s unlikely that any Gods were called upon to watch over her soul. No doubt one or two of those present may have said a silent prayer or two, but as the scattering of ashes is usually a poignant occasion, it’s hard to know what might have entered the concious or subconscious. The often relaxed protocol around the dispersal of ashes is an odd but somehow comforting thing. When we collected my Dad from the crematorium I remember we stopped at a favourite watering hole, put a bottle of Jameson Whiskey on the counter next to him, and had a last drink before going to the cemetery. Ironically, somebody at the other end of the bar lifted his glass and said “Good Health”—a little too late for that. I read recently about a lady who, having scattered most of her late husband’s ashes in different places, kept what she decided were his hands and deposited them in a plant pot in a place where he used to play the piano. How she knew the remaining ashes were his hands is anyone’s guess, but the thought left me daydreaming about ghostly limbs wandering the earth in search of the rest of their bodies. Where would they look? Would they tramp about the country visiting Ashburton, Ashton or Ashford? Or would they haunt the Ashmolean Museum, silently beseeching staff to reunite them with their wayward appendages—daydreams can be such a menace. As there are no ashes scattered anywhere near her, my sister’s daughter decided to plant a tree. She calls it ‘Mummy’s Tree’ and her daughter will probably call it ‘Granny’s Tree’. And if time and weather are kind to it, some day it might be called ‘Great Gandmother’s Tree’, and so on. Eventually one day, it too may well be reduced to ashes, but in the meantime it is a fitting reminder of someone who always appeared to have her hands stretched out to help anybody around her. It also brings to mind the words of a wise poet; ‘Whosoever plants a tree, winks at immortality’.  FB

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