Be Gentle “It’s My Dad”

I’ve spent much of my life in TSA lines, a la dad working for Continental Airlines most of my life. Over the years, I’ve had to explain lots of weird shit in my belongings to TSA. My hotcomb that apparently the officer had never seen, the yellow wiffle bat with hand drawn birthday candles on it, a dead lizard en route home from Costa Rica..and now, my dad.

When he passed, I knew I’d eventually want to take his ashes to Denver and spread them at my moms cemetery.  When I got my cousins wedding announcement in the mail, I figured I’d take him then since everyone would be in town. After reading TSA rules, I started to mentally prep for this. I’d have to get a smaller temporary container AND transport them…myself. So many questions. What does it look inside the big container, I hadn’t opened it since I picked him up from the funeral home on his own birthday last summer? What’s the noise it makes when I shake it? WHY does it make noise, isn’t it just ash? What happens if some of it gets on me? What happens if I spill some in the process how do I clean it up? Do I ask someone to come over and help me do this? In the end I did ask. The body language of the first person I asked to help with this undertaking (no pun) expressed  disinterest and the verbals were less than supportive so I had to think a little more. Nehad, she’d be perfect. One of the most calming and uplifting souls I know. She didn’t wince, not even when some ashes blew onto her pretty sun dress. She helped me find a scripture to read before we started, and opened the bottle of champaign when we finished, I had to make this process a “thing” it only felt right to have some pomp and circumstance. Of course the next morning I got to the airport and put Francis on the conveyer belt and before I could explain, they asked “What is this”? At 5:00 am, barely awake and a tad emo, I said “Its my dad, be gentle.”

Not wanting to take any shine from my cousins big day, I waited until the next morning and sent a mass text “Taking dad to be with mom at 11:30 if you want to come”.  I didn’t plan anything or expect anything. I figured we’d say a prayer and scatter him along the lake near her plot. As I watched my family gather around me, I was overwhelmed, with an equal amount of joy and sorrow. My cousin Steve took a small piece of paper from his pocket and started to tell me his favorite stories and memories he had of my mom, who’s death crossed direct paths with my birth and my dad, who raised me on his own, thereafter. I was touched, soon, everyone started chiming in with their own stories. We finally scattered Francis along the bank of the lake near mom, and it gave me a great sense of peace knowing my parents were now physically together here on earth. I could hear my dad shouting from the heavens as I left “you couldn’t wear pants without holes in them to send me off!” a la the ripped boyfriend jeans I wore that day.

The death of not one but two parents is deepest kind pain one can experience and its only with the constant love and support of family, friends and my pastors (yeah, you need a few  of them for these things), that I have any ounce of sanity. I still have OH SHIT MY DAD IS GONE moments, but its normal and I own it. BUT, at least with cremation, you’ll always have a ridiculous story to tell that no matter how deep the pain, you will find a way to laugh. There are endless contemplations regarding appropriateness in talking about cremated remains and well, its mostly comical.  You never know what to call the box of ash, “It” seems so rude and heartless, and “Dad” is a weird. I usually lean toward weird and insert him in random conversations. I also laugh at myself every time I pass the aisle in Target that I bought the container to take him in on the airplane. Who puts their dad in a container from Target? This girl.  Strangely, its never the urn that brings me tears,  like ever, at all. It’s damn near everything else. When Sophia spent the night at my place while I was out of town, I asked if she’d prefer me to move Francis somewhere out of site.  “Nope, its fine, he and I will chat” and apparently they did…When my cousin said he missed my dad and I could say “Well actually he’s in car …” these comically awkward conversations and situations make it all a little easier…



~ by tortillacachupa on April 21, 2014.

2 Responses to “Be Gentle “It’s My Dad””

  1. This is great. You’re a champ!

  2. Your love, grace, humor and dignity shine so brightly. You are a wonderful embodiment of all the qualities both your parents valued. Love you

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