My Father’s Ashes

It’s been two months since I wrote a post. Two months that have been demanding professionally and personally as my congregation and I dealt with a number of deaths, including the most recent one, that of my father two and half weeks ago. My father’s death was sudden and shocking, his body unexpectedly succumbing to the effects of throat cancer and radiation.

His wish was that following cremation, his 
ashes be retained by our mother until her death, and then they be interred together. 

This is a birdhouse that I gave my parents a number of years ago. They had a collection of birdhouses from the utilitarian to the whimsical hanging in the trees at their home outside of Windsor, Nova Scotia. This one never housed birds, it was kept inside, I am not sure why. Now it houses my father’s remains. We decided that this was an appropriate container for them, although I have since discovered that many people wondered whether he built houses in his retirement, not realizing it was a birdhouse. 

My mother has a special spot for his ashes in their TV room; it’s on the table on which this birdhouse sat since they moved into their apartment. Sitting alongside it is a small, decorative hummingbird lamp, hummingbirds are important to my mother and the candle that was used as a Christ Candle during his funeral. 

It’s been a long, cold winter here in Nova Scotia, the first one my parents have spent here in about 15 years, my father was reluctant to make the trip this year. They have a second home in Florida, where they quickly made friends, got involved in their mobile home park association and enjoyed an active social life and appreciated the sun and sea. After talking with her children and receiving assurance that we would not feel abandoned, my mother decided that she would go to their Florida home for a couple of weeks. However, she also said that on some level she felt as if she would be abandoning her partner of 57 years; and so I asked her if she would like one of their children to take them while she was away. 

And so, his ashes have made their home with me for the past week; they sit on a small table in our open concept living/dining room and so are part of the ordinary landscape of our home. Despite knowing that his spirit/soul/presence is not contained in that box, there is some sense of his presence nonetheless.  

My mother will be home next week, his ashes will go back to her apartment as she begins the process of building her life without him. I wonder how much emptier my home will be. 
And that’s my window on God’s world.  

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