During my mother's first hospitalization last April, she quickly told me her thoughts on burial/cremation. Her basic thoughts were that she wanted to be cremated and have her ashes spread in three places that had meaning to her. The first was Abbo's Alley in Sewanee, which happened within a week of her death. The second was the back yard of the house I grew up in, which is in Maryland. We'll get to the third another time. It was quickly decided that the Maryland part would happen on the same weekend as the Preakness. B. and D. created a lovely email invitation with a great photograph of my mother, and did all the prep work (from counting heads to organizing a menu). In the end about 35 people gathered to witness the spreading of my mother's ashes in the back yard of the home she loved for over 20 years. In this picture alone there are relatives, coworkers, and friends. Many of whom have a slightly different meaning for me; they were the parents of my childhood friends, my softball coach, my piano teacher, my sometimes boss. Neighbors as well. And the children who grew up with my mother before I did and saw her as a 'spare.'
Dad said a few words then spread the ashes. We then invited those gathered to say a few words or share any memories they had of mom. J. remembered Mom showing him how to tuck his shirt into his pants 'like a cowboy' when he was no more than five. The trick, it seemed, was to stuff them into your underpants. R., a neighbor whose sons I played with throughout my youth, remembered Mom being the first person in the neighborhood to welcome his family. R., R.'s wife, remembered tye dying with my mother with two little babes nearby. J. remembered Mom's willingness to help, as did D. and C. and so many others.
It was sad, of course, but not heartbreaking. There is solace to be had in the good memories others hold dear.
And this house will always hold so many of my memories.
We returned to B. and D.'s house afterwards for a reception. They had decided that the menu would consist of things that my mother liked. Deviled eggs freshly made (so there could be no worry about spoiling). Texas-style hot dogs, complete with chili and chopped onions. Mini crab cakes and, hmmm, I think something else. It was a lovely theme for the food and so generous and kind and thoughtful of the T.s to put it together. The beer of the event was Heineken, also Mom's favorite.
Cousins. I do like taking pictures of kids. I guess because they are more reliably interesting and potentially photographic than adults?
Or I'm simply less scared of them being annoyed that I'm taking photos of them. Adults can get tetchy.
Me, my father, his sister and my half-brother.
I am grateful to all who came and shared their appreciation of my mother with us.