Last week I finally took my dad’s ashes to a final resting place.
I drove, with my mum and the rest of my family, to a small hamlet where my dad had lived with his dad after the Second World War was over. Dad was born and had grown up in London during the 1920s and 30s and had joined the Royal Navy as a teenager to serve in Italy. When he came home his mum and dad had left Kensington for Kent. My gran, who loved the city, found herself living on a small tenant farm with no running water and was not a happy woman. Granddad was happier but he suffered the after effects of a gas attack he received as a Grenadier Guard in the First World War. This had triggered all kinds of physical responses which he dealt with my working hard and drinking. My dad, meanwhile returned to England as a young man, unsure of what to do next. He worked on the farm for a few years until his brother convinced him to join the police.
My dad told me many stories of his years on the farm and of how happy he had been. My mum had visited the place many times, even when dad was stuck in hospital (still a young man) with TB. My grandparents, and the original farm house are long gone, but this seemed like a good place to scatter my dad’s ashes.
Mum and I found a spot overlooking a pasture filled with buttercups and dandelions and I did my best to fling the ashes in a respectful way. It took a few goes and looked, to my rational eyes, a little odd. The green and yellow of the field nearest us, was now wearing a grey coat of ash. The final fling produced a cloud of ash that caught a light breeze, moved up in the air and travelled back to my mum and then me, falling gently at our feet.
We didn’t say much but got back in the car with J and the children. While mum and I were fairly quiet, J said a goodbye to dad as we drove off and I had a little cry. Which is what I’m doing now.