“If I die before you, take my urn on a ride.”
Saying it out loud surprised me as much as Jim. I’m not dying, at least not anytime soon that I’m aware of. But the thought struck me hard, like a brick to the head, while I looked out the window of the truck at a creek that was swollen from recent flooding rains. There was a sense of urgency about the way mini waterfalls and rapids formed in the otherwise docile water. Its beauty—flowing at the foot of a bucolic green hillside dotted with dandelions—reminded me how the moments I love most are fleeting, and driving in the countryside with Jim is one of my favorite things.
“Treat my urn like the Stanley Cup,” I continued. (Each player from the current year’s championship hockey team gets to take the Cup home with them for a day.) “Strap me in the front seat and tell me stories, like you do now. And when you get home, pass me off to my kids.”
We didn’t talk about it further, but as we watched the Penguins play the Rangers in round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs, I thought about the other places I’d like my urn to go, places I’d like my ashes to rest, other people I’d like to “hold” me one last time. Following, in no particular order, are a few (and by no means all) ideas.
- Carlene and Cassie, you already know to bury some of my ashes at Bruce’s grave. I’d also like a few ashes scattered where he died, and since you’ll be in the area, I wouldn’t mind a bit of me blowing around South Dakota, too.
- Cassie, plant me in your flower bed next to the peonies. That would put me in view of the grandkids coming and going, playing and riding their bikes.
- Carlene, when you’re not traveling with me, set me on one of your bookshelves (not Ben’s…keep me away from Stephen King!), or let me watch you work from your home office.
- Pass me off to Peg. Ask her to scatter part of me on her fire pit and in the always-dying basil plant on the steps of her front porch. Maybe my ashes will be just the thing to get it growing that year.
- Pam, sit with me on your couch and put on an old episode of General Hospital, preferably the one where Laura marries Luke. Wrap us in that quilt you made, if you still have it. Hand me over to Jack and ask him to tell me a story, like he did when he was six. Take me to Medicine Lake and drop a bit of me into the water at the beach. You know the one.
- Niagara Falls (the Canadian side). That’s a trip my daughters and stepsons will take together. They need to find that chair in that hotel (or a close facsimile), sprinkle some ash on top, flip over the cushion, and laugh long and hard and so loud that I’ll hear them.
- I want part of me in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi and the Clarion rivers, too. Oh! And someone has to take me to Michigan’s upper peninsula. Eat a whitefish sandwich, then sprinkle me in Lake Superior. The Edmond Fitzgerald has always fascinated me.
- Rodney, sneak up on the porch of my former house, where we used to eat pizza and talk, and rub a little of me into the wood slats.
- Frankie, take me to a Blue Rodeo concert.
- And Jim, my love, when you get me back from my adventures, drive us down to Lakes, the site of not only our best date, but the single best date of my life. Play Alice Cooper’s “You and Me” as you drive, and when you get there, eat a Reuben and play the juke box. When you leave, throw some ashes in the parking lot in honor of my Norwegian shoulders. They and the rest of me fell in love with you that night and in that space. It will remain a sacred place for all eternity.