Check this out:
These are on display in the corner of my cellar. The four of them, (two pets, two people) have been on display for some time now. I know it’s a bit of a macabre theme but go with it. Think of this as a pre-Halloween blog or something. It’s become a dilemma, I must say. I didn’t plan on starting this collection.
Okay so I acquired the first one in 1982. I was 17 when my poodle Suzette died mysteriously on St. Patrick’s Day; one cold March morning. She was let out to do her duty and dropped to the ground apparently. My father carried her inside. She died in my arms on the kitchen floor while I was on the phone to the vet. She’d been found by the mailbox out front. When the snow finally thawed a few weeks later, I found her dog tag on the ground. Did a car slide on ice and knock her over? Because I can’t figure out how her tags ended up on the ground. Or did she die of old age? She never went in the road…Anyway I had her cremated and put in this blue box, which you can see has water damage because after all it’s over thirty years old.
Unbeknownst to me, that poodle was a secret gift from the woman who gave birth to me. (I’m adopted,) She gave it to my aunt to give to me when I was a little kid and we were great pals. I still dream about her.
In 2005 Howie died:
(Yes I used to throw darts at his picture, all in good fun…)
The above photo was taken when he was 16. You actually had to buy film, load a camera, and then develop pictures at a drug store back then. And you weren’t guaranteed you’d like every shot, no deleting bad pictures then. No selfies. Film and developing fees were just too expensive to buy film for every occasion so compared to nowadays, less pictures were taken. But I digress. He (my spouse) died at the age of 42, in 2005. He’d requested to have his ashes scattered at various places he liked to fish. So I did that. My best friend who is of Native American heritage, braided a wreath of wildflowers. We piled stones and dropped roses into streams.
I also gave out scoops of ashes upon request to family members.
He really got spread around.
But alas his remains are now here in this atrocious but well intentioned jug I found at an Ocean State Job Lot:
I carried it home (uphill, I don’t drive) and decorated (I was in a mosaic phase) it. I always meant to find something else to keep him in but I never did. The note says: I love you Grandpa, a note from a grandson he never met.
The third ‘urn acquisition’ took me by surprise. I mean my spouse had been terminally ill but when my mother died, (this is her and me below and incidentally I swear my 81 yr. old father STILL has the brown shirt seen hanging on the line here, circa 1965.):
I was dumbstruck.
It was 2007. Now I was 43. An only child, my father and I went out shopping for an urn. I wasn’t at all surprised when he pulled into a Goodwill Store lot. We looked around quite a bit when suddenly my father saw it:
Yes that’s a Knotts Berry Farm label (as shown here above) which is on the bottom.
“Carol would love this. Look at all the pretty flowers, Kimmy,” he said to me.
I couldn’t disagree. It was a bit narrow but we’d make it work!
At the church, my father and my aunt and I arrived before anyone else. Finally my mother’s ashes arrived. My aunt (a lovely woman whose help I appreciated more than she could know) put my mother in the Knotts Berry farm “urn.”
“Carol’s still warm,” she said. “And heavy too.”
She almost didn’t fit. My humor rose up as did my aunt’s. How could we NOT laugh?
“Get in there Carol,” she coaxed, as she kneaded and pushed until finally my mother was inside her resting place (chose lovingly by my humble father.) He handed me the urn when all was said and done.
“I want you to have her,” he said. And she joined Suzy my poodle and Howie my late husband.
A year later, in late October of 2008, my beloved Pralphdog seen below—
He had developed lumps all over his body and the vet had said they were benign.
Maybe they weren’t.
He was only 9 years old. He asked for the door, by ringing the little bell attached to the handle but he never made it outside to do his duty. He pooped a massive one right there on the floor. He hadn’t done that since before he’d been trained! I should’ve known something was up. I brought him outside; hitched him to finish his business, maybe have a pee for himself and then I cleaned his mess. I walked outside with rubber gloves and a paper bag to dispose of his mess in the trash can. He was laying spreadeagle in the dirt. When I passed by him to go in the house I bent to pet him and he was not breathing or moving. It was that quick. He was dead. It was an utter shock.
Someone told me he knew he was ready to die and had asked to go outside because he’d wanted to “return to the earth.”
Anyway, I went and (you guessed it) had him cremated. He’s in this green can:
So I’ve been passing by this urn display for many years, where they are on a table in my basement. I pause sometimes, with my laundry basket on my hip before I head back up the stairs and I talk to one or another of them. This is ridiculous because they don’t reside there in the urns. They’re everywhere but there, where their physical vessels have been left behind. They’re in my dreams, heart, and thoughts, all around me, a mere molecule away. Why then, do I keep them? I don’t “need” a monument to them, a “place” to go to think of them. Right?
I got to thinking, should they all be returned to the earth?
You see I’d always hoped to afford stones for the people… I fear I never will afford cemetery plots and headstones though. Should I scatter them? I hesitate to bury the animals here, as this place is a rental house… Whatever to do…