Hauling Ash

Hauling Ash. Could be the story of a family who owns a crematorium. Could be a Cinderella story. So goes the confusion of ashes and dust.

Recently, I’ve been pondering death. It’s never really mattered much to me what happens to my body after I’ve died, since I don’t intend to be in it. I have always believed that those things are done for the living. Those left behind. Sometimes people just need certain things to happen in order to help them grieve the loss of that loved one. I would prefer to be cremated. I hate to think of people going to a lot of expense to put my useless body in a casket and plant it in the ground. The funeral biz is such a racket and I do not want my loved ones being taken advantage of when they are feeling weak. Plus, I hate the idea of my body being put into the ground. On the other hand, I think it’s wrong to make demands about the observance of my passing. After all, I won’t be there! ;) So…… that’s sorta where I’ve left it. Kinda nowhere.

A couple of years ago, on Memorial Day, my Tiny was working at a store where she watched people come in and pick out flowers to put on the grave of a loved one. It bothered her that they often chose the cheapest ones. A man had even asked her for advice and she suggested roses. After looking at the price, he settled on the cheap ones, too. So, the other day I was thinking about that. I know my Tiny would like to be able to visit me somewhere after I’m gone. I wondered where that would be. The first place I thought of was Santa Monica Pier. After my divorce, I met my friend Jack, who lives in a high rise apartment building at Santa Monica Beach. He very generously offered to let me stay in his guest room whenever I wanted to get away from it all. I would arrive in the late afternoon, he and I would go to dinner and then he would work long hours into the night, writing stories like, "Hauling Ash." When I awoke in the morning (usually around 7 or 8) I would take my book, walk down to a local restaurant (The Omelette Parlor) and have a quiet breakfast. Then I’d walk to the beach, sit down and read my book. This was a very healing and tranquil time for me. And my fondness for Jack, and Santa Monica, quickly grew to a degree of great affection. To this day, Jack still welcomes me any time I want to visit. Jack and I were never romantically involved, but we remain very close friends and he is a man I very much adore.

I’ve visited and lived many places in my life. But my favorite places have always been near the Pacific Ocean. So here’s my suggestion:

Let me burn and scatter my ashes in the Pacific. That way, anyone who wants to “visit” me can meet me anywhere that the ocean meets the land. I don’t know if I will be able to really go and meet them, but if things are anything like they are in the world of fantasy and fairy tales, I believe I will be hanging out at that Pier. ;)

And maybe somewhere, a sign can be planted that states my epitaph, which I wrote myself a number of years ago:

They say there is beefcake for every fine lassie,
As long as you promise to keep your fine chassis!
While his member is throbbing to enter a beauty,
He doesn’t care which… only knows it’s his duty!
So I’m leaving the men, to their own discredit ~
And what of my cake? I already et it!

And who’s to say that these things will even remotely come to pass? Check out what happened with Dorothy Parker’s ashes.

But just for the record, when I talked with my daughter, Erin, about this she said, “If that’s what you want, Mom, I will be sure it gets done.”