Mom told me many times that she wanted to be cremated. It never occurred to me until afterward that she may have simply been trying to save me the cost of burying her. I think she wanted me to have what little insurance money there was to deal with other expenses, and I was very grateful for that at the time. Plus my life was still in a state of flux and I did not want to bury her in Massachusetts; if I ended up having to take a job outside the state it would be difficult for me to visit her gravesite. Cremation meant that no matter where I moved, I could keep her ashes with me.
But after making it clear that she should be cremated, she also asked me on more than on occasion to have her ashes spread at the finish line at Pimlico Race Course.
She died in 2007 and I still have not done it yet.
I kept telling myself there was no need to do it right away. I had plenty of time. It could wait until after I moved. After I moved I said I would do it as soon as I found a job. After I found a job the job turned out to be extremely stressful, and there were all kinds of pressures to distract me from taking care of any of my personal priorities. Years passed and I said I would do it for her 75th birthday. Now two more years have passed after that, and I still haven't fulfilled her request.
I avoid thinking about this most of the time, but there are various triggers that bring it up: the anniversary of her death, of course; her birthday; and the first Saturday in May when Triple Crown season begins.
I thought about it the whole time I was watching the Derby telecast on Saturday, and two weeks from now when they run the Preakness it will really be at the forefront of my mind. The Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs, and the Preakness Stakes is run at Pimlico.
For decades mom went to the race track almost every weekend and went to the Preakness every year. She would get look forward to the Preakness for weeks and get ready for it for weeks and enjoy talking about it for weeks afterward. It was an event that brought pleasant anticipation, and celebration and fellowship. I want to honor her happiness and avocational joy, especially because it eases some of my guilt for the years I was estranged from her. The race track was one of her few deep pleasures that compensated for whatever sadness she had at being separated from me. I'm sure it comforted her for years to think that she would be "buried" at Pimlico.
I wish I could feel that good about being anywhere.
Most of her ashes are in a beautiful pewter urn, and the rest are in a special "traveling box" I got from the urn manufacturer with the intention of taking them to Pimlico. The urn could stay with me, and every time I watched the Preakness I would know that the rest of her remains were there. That was the tentative plan.
A small part of me does not want her ashes to be divided. Sometimes I think ALL the ashes should go to Pimlico. But even though I carry her inside me in a more intimate sense than any exterior item could convey (i mean, half my DNA is hers), I still want the urn and at least part of the ashes to stay with me. I guess it is in the back of my mind to have the urn buried with me, either placed into my casket or interred in the same grave with me or in a niche next to me if I am cremated also.
This is morbid I know, and some of my friends are horrified when I start talking about my own death in this way. But I have not been taking good care of my health lately. I worry that I might die suddenly, and oddly enough one of my biggest concerns if that should occur is that I have not make any definite provision for what should be done with mom's ashes.
I need to snap out of these early spring doldrums and get back to my good self care routines. I am at an age where I should have my end of life ducks in a row. I need to get my life in order for so many reasons, not the least of which is that I want to make sure mom gets that final resting place she thought about for so long.
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