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I have most of my mom's ashes in an urn, and I don't know what I intend to do with them.  

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.

Welcome, fellow travelers on the grief journey
and a special welcome to anyone new to The Grieving Room.
We meet every Monday evening.
Whether your loss is recent, or many years ago;
whether you've lost a person, or a pet;
or even if the person you're "mourning" is still alive,
("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time),
you can come to this diary and say whatever you need to say.
We can't solve each other's problems,
but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.
Unlike a private journal
here, you know: your words are read by people who
have been through their own hell.
There's no need to pretty it up or tone it down..
It just is.

Originally posted to The Grieving Room on Mon May 05, 2014 at 05:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Maryland Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 05, 2014 at 05:10:14 PM PDT

  •  Please share whatever you need to share (15+ / 0-)

    even if it has nothing to do with the subject of the diary.

    As always, TGR is a grieving Open Thread.

    Participating here is an act of trust between blogfriends who know each other and between people who have never met.  We send our needs, our cries for help, our poems of loss and recovery, our honest emotions, out into the blogosphere.  We trust that someone reading our words has been in a similar place and truly understands.  We trust that someone out there will offer a kind word and stand beside us as we rant and rage about the unfairness of it all. We read without judgment and offer presence, not advice.

    All future hosting dates on the schedule are OPEN.  If you have a grief anniversary or other significant date coming up, and would like to write a diary for a particular week, please post a comment in the diary asking for the date you want, and/or send me a kosmail, and/or send an email to TrueBlueMajority AT gmail DOT com.

    The Grieving Room is open for discussion.  What is on your mind and heart tonight?

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon May 05, 2014 at 05:17:34 PM PDT

    •  I would like to take the first Monday in June (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, Randomfactor

      as it will be the closest date to the second anniversary of Andy's passing. I've felt as though I'm walking a kind of deathwatch since this month began, and I think I'll be ready to talk about it by then.

      What I want to know is, who's going to pay for these crimes against humanity that those b@st@rds are perpetrating against the rest of us?

      by Kit RMP on Tue May 06, 2014 at 01:27:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you, Kit RMP (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Randomfactor

        I will put you on the hosting schedule for June 2nd

        i have also experienced a sort of grief corona that surrounds certain dates--spreading out ahead of them and after them--so I can identify with the "deathwatch" feeling when a significant date is approaching

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 06, 2014 at 04:51:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  TBM (13+ / 0-)

    The Preakness is in just two weeks. Mothers' Day is this Sunday. If you want to go out to Pimlico with the ashes during the coming weekend and you want some company, message me.

    •  what a deeply kind offer, El Bloguero (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Randomfactor, Kit RMP, El Bloguero

      the problem is that I live far away now, and I have to work weekends, so as appealing as that idea sounds, I can't get ready that fast.

      i'm glad you mentioned Mother's Day too.  I swear I did not even think about that aspect of it until the diary was finished and published.  That could be part of the reason I have been having such a hard time lately.

      thanks for the offer though.  it touched my heart.  really.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 06, 2014 at 04:55:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Today would have been my mother's 93rd birthday (13+ / 0-)

    So of course I've been thinking about her a lot today.

    Mother and I made it a point to watch all of the Triple Crown races. So yesterday I watched the derby and I was thinking about her.

    California Chrome was my pick for the derby and I'm sure that she would have been pleased that he won.

    Mother had purchased a plot about 30 years before her death at a beautiful cemetery in the San Diego area so that part was decided and we had discussed cremation as a way to minimize the final expenses so that's what I did. As a matter of fact, I was there as an observer on the day she was cremated. I helped push her cremation casket into the cremation retort and actually turned the switch that started up the burners.

    A couple of days later I picked up the ashes from the mortuary and within a week my niece and I were in San Diego to carry out her final wish. My niece and I lowered the copper urn containing her ashes into the grave she had purchased so many years before.

    Mother's ashes were sealed in a copper urn that once closed couldn't be opened so I asked the mortuary to reserve a small quantity of her ashes.

    Mother died just after Mother's Day in 2011 and since then I've scattered some of her ashes in a couple of her favorite places, places that we visited and enjoyed together. There's still a small packet that I'm reserving for when I get back to Yosemite.

    Thanks very much for your diary. You shared some things that couldn't be more timely here.

    Peace be with you.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Mon May 05, 2014 at 06:11:39 PM PDT

    •  you are coming up on three years (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Randomfactor, Mr Robert, Kit RMP

      having her birthday and death anniversary and Mother's Day so close to each other sounds extremely challenging, Mr Robert.

      thank you especially for sharing your experience with cremation and scattering of ashes.   what a bold and brave thing to physically help with the cremation.  i sometimes wish I had given myself that same finality--instead the body just disappeared after the funeral until it was time to pick up the ashes.

      I will be thinking of you and your mom on Preakness day

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 06, 2014 at 05:06:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My friend's mother passed five years ago (11+ / 0-)

    and she wanted her ashes spread on a beach- or better yet, out in the ocean.

    The ashes are still in an urn at my friend's sister's house.

    I know there had been several other deaths in the family since then.  Plus two siblings moved out of state, "so it was hard to get us all together to do a memorial spreading"  my friend said.

    And added, "My Mom understands.  I hardly ever did what she wanted me to do when she was alive.  Why should it be any different just because she's dead."

    Morbid...but true.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Mon May 05, 2014 at 06:18:27 PM PDT

  •  my mother died a year ago (10+ / 0-)

    last thursday.  i have her ashes in a nice wooden urn, nothing fancy just what she wanted.  she never made much fuss about what to do with them and my sister, daughter and i thought we might take them to hawaii for dispersal. we have not gotten around to it and really don't want to hassle the regulations.  we have the option through neptune to take them out to sea with their monthly trip and we may.  as for now, she is on the book shelf.  i imagine her as being content to be there and will take steps when she tells me its time.

    "I am an old woman, named after my mother. my old man is another child who's grown old." John Prine (not an old woman)

    by art ah zen on Mon May 05, 2014 at 06:56:53 PM PDT

    •  on the book shelf (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      art ah zen, Randomfactor, Kit RMP

      my mom's ashes are on the top of an unassuming curio cabinet that I associate strongly with her last Maryland apartment (a senior citizen building where she was very happy) and the apartment we lived in together after she came to live with me.

      thanks for the idea that her remains might be content to be there.  i am surprisingly content to have them there, whenever I am not berating myself for not getting to Pimlico yet.

      mom had also asked for "nothing fancy" and when Pope JPII died she talked about wanting a "plain pine box".  I could not bring myself to make the extra arrangements required to do that.  the urn is plain though.  not ornately decorated, but beautiful in its simplicity.  the travel box is just reinforced cardboard.

      as for your mother's ashes, you are right that when it is time you will know what to do.  at least you have an idea about how you might go about it.

      thanks for stopping in and commenting, art ah zen.  making it through the first year is a major milestone.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 06, 2014 at 05:42:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i have vowed to let it go (3+ / 0-)

        now and stop grieving.  i gave myself one year, i have spoken of her death and that of my beloved ancient golden (dog) just the week before she passed, and now i have to move on from the sadness.  you are right, making it through the first year is a milestone.  thank you for reminding me of that.  from now on, i hope to think and speak of them with a smile and the joy that we shared together for so many years.  
        thank you for being here.  

        "I am an old woman, named after my mother. my old man is another child who's grown old." John Prine (not an old woman)

        by art ah zen on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:09:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Regulations (6+ / 0-)

    There are a lot of Regulations regarding the scattering of remains, however, they are rarely enforced. So it's unlikely that you would face an kind of negative consequences regardless of what you end up doing.

    My mother lost both of her legs to Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and I was there for both amputations.

    As it happens, both surgeries were at the same hospital and they sent amputated limbs to another company that did the necessary pathology.

    Anyway, I informed the Surgery Department that I wanted to "claim the limb" and in both cases they were surprised, but in both cases I was able to control the disposition of my mother's limbs.

    On both occasions I contacted a local funeral home and they collected the remains from the Pathology Labs and cremated my mother's limbs and I received the ashes for less than $300 in both cases.

    My mother and I have a favorite place in a National Park that has amazing exhibits of Spring Wild Flowers and I scattered the ashes from her lower limbs on two occasions in spite of the fact that it was illegal to do so.

    So when it comes to scattering ashes I say fuck the State/Federal regulations and go for it.

    There is only only time I've heard of anyone having any problems. In that case a friend was scattering the ashes of his father on Santa Cruz Beach and somebody called the police but it didn't amount to anything. The cops showed up but they didn't do anything after responding to the call.

    Now if you're planning on scattering ashes outside a cemetery I'd recommend you use discretion. Do it at night or away from other people. Don't do it in front of folks who might assume that you are scattering something harmful to the environment or whatever.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Mon May 05, 2014 at 08:11:55 PM PDT

    •  One more thing... (6+ / 0-)

      The only reason these regulations exist is because the Funeral industry is out to protect its interests. They want to collect a fee for each and every death. That's the reason there are laws that might prevent you interring more than one individual in the same grave. The only way that can happen is if you double dig a grave, buy two coffins, and pay a fee for each burial.

      It goes on and on.

      Want to be interred with your favorite pets ashes? Chances that's illegal. Why, only dog know why, but it must be in the interest of the funeral industry.

      My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

      by Mr Robert on Mon May 05, 2014 at 08:16:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One last thought... (6+ / 0-)

        Most if not all States have a mechanism in place to track the disposition of cremains. That means that when you pick up the remains of your relative from the mortuary the box comes with an official looking certificate that you are supposed to use to report on how you disposed of the ashes.

        Well folks, I live in California and I've tossed several of these forms in the trash and disposed of my relatives ashes as I pleased. The only exception was with my mother and since she was being interred in a licensed cemetery it was necessary to dot the i's and cross the t's to get it done. And, it was very apparent that the cemetery was using the state regs to extract every possible dime.

        Bottom line: the funeral industry sucks, but individual funeral homes may be OK depending on ownership. Just be aware that if you live in a small community chances are that most if not all of the funeral homes will be owned by the same company/corporation. So buyer beware!

        My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

        by Mr Robert on Mon May 05, 2014 at 08:39:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the funeral industry (4+ / 0-)

          don't start me on the ways funeral homes get extra money out of grieving people.  I have a lot of strongly held opinions on that score.  All I will say for now is that if you want to get around those practices, it can almost always be done, but it takes advance planning.  For example, if I had arranged to get the plain pine box casket in advance, the funeral home would have had to accept it.  Green burial and natural burial are available in more and more places.

          But as it turns out, Pimlico has so many requests for scattering of ashes that they have a form letter (!) they send out with all of the information:  it can only be on certain days (and NOT on Preakness Day, which I can understand), it has to be in the morning before racing begins for the day, it has to be at the finish line, etc.  All of that is to say that when I do it I will not be breaking any regulations.

          Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
          DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
          Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 06, 2014 at 05:54:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  wow i wish i had thought of that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Randomfactor, Mr Robert, Kit RMP

      my mom had a leg amputated and it never occurred to me that I could get the limb.  strangely enough, I kind of wanted it, but had no idea of what I would have done with it.  thank you for giving me the cremation idea to share with other people for the future.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 06, 2014 at 05:46:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My late husband loved to travel and at the urging (7+ / 0-)

    of his friends, small vials of his ashes have been spread at places they have been, so he could be there too.  Some day I hope to find a place so much to his liking that I can leave the rest in one wonderful place that would be easy for folks to visit.  

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. & http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Okiciyap

    by weck on Mon May 05, 2014 at 08:12:29 PM PDT

  •  My dear TruBlue: (3+ / 0-)

    My Tonia and I agree,
    our bodies will go to
    KU Medical Center,
    in Kansas City, Kansas.

    http://www.kumed.com/...

    They can use our cadavers
    to practice surgery,
    do research,
    whatever they feel is the wisest use
    of our cadavers.

    Someone told me,
    that if we do that,
    the next of kin will receive,
    at some point in time,
    ashes.

    Tonia hasn't told me
    what I should do with her ashes,
    if she dies first.

    I think my ashes would make good fertilizer,
    for a back yard garden.

    Someone could eat tasty
    tomatoes
    and potatoes,
    with some of my potassium and calcium,
    in the food.

    http://www.ehow.com/...

    This may not help you with your situation.

    If I can offer any advice,
    it would be,
    write down,
    with paper and ink,
    or on your computer,
    what you feel will make you feel right
    about the situation.

    If you cannot rest easy
    unless you actually do the deed,
    at the place of horse manure (!),
    then set a date,
    make plans,
    and do it.

    I cannot imagine
    feeling a need
    to put mementos of loved ones with horse manure.

    In my life,
    full of mementos,
    I have the memories first,
    the conversation with Tonia
    about my parents and Pam,
    and then a few items around the house,
    the pink slip in my wallet,
    showing I got $80 for my wedding band,
    that kind of thing.

    If I had ashes,
    I would look at the urn,
    now and then.

    I guess I just don't get the scattering thing.

    Or maybe I do.

    I haven't been on a long walk in a while.

    I think if I had any ashes,
    I would go for a long walk one night,
    (do you need more exercise,
    in your self care plan?),
    and,
    at some odd place,
    in the grassy space,
    between the sidewalk and the street,
    when the mood feels right,
    I would drop just a teaspoonful,
    between the blades of grass.

    After many weeks,
    maybe months,
    of nightly walks,
    those ashes would be resting
    in peaceful places,
    where you're doing what you can
    to make yourself healthier,
    so we can enjoy you longer.

    How does that sound?

    Hope that helped.

    Famine in America by 2050: the post-peak oil American apocalypse.

    by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Mon May 05, 2014 at 11:09:01 PM PDT

    •  mom wanted her body given to medical science (3+ / 0-)

      and again, because I did not prepare for it in advance, when the time came I was too discombobulated to do it.

      good for you and Tonia for making your wishes known ahead of time.

      i smiled at the part about the horse manure!  the horses do not usually do their business at the finish line, and that is the only place ashes are allowed to be scattered.

      for now I do look at the urn sometimes.  and even when I do not look at it, I know it is there

      going back to the house I grew up in and leaving some there, or as I walked around that block, is an interesting idea.  I could go back to all her previous addresses and do that.  but she was happier some places than others.

      and in a way she was happiest when she lived with me, so that's another argument for holding on to the ashes for a while longer

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 06, 2014 at 06:09:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Donna's ashes (3+ / 0-)

    ...will be scattered with mine.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Tue May 06, 2014 at 07:59:13 AM PDT

  •  {{{{{{TBM & mom}}}}}}} n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kit RMP, TrueBlueMajority

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Tue May 06, 2014 at 02:53:28 PM PDT

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