Ring around the rosy,
A pocket full of posies;
We all fall down.
I kept going back and forth about Kathy’s ashes. If you remember, her ‘cremains’ arrived on September 22. A friendly postal worker delivered them in a cardboard box from Harvard Medical School. I had over a year to mull it over: from the time she passed away; to the morning she came home.
Plymouth. Since I was performing in Plymouth on October 1st, I thought Plymouth Beach (Long Beach) would be a nice location. Kathy loved Plymouth. But since it ended up being a cold and rainy day I decided against that. I didn’t want to combine it with something else, either. Too distracting.
Mt. Holyoke. One idea was to bring her ashes to the top of Mt. Holyoke (Skinner Mountain State Park, not the college) and try to scatter them there. It was one of Kathy’s favorite spots, with a beautiful view of the Connecticut River below. Images of the ashes blowing back into my face danced in my brain from a dark comedy I had watched. But it was on my list of places.
I considered burying them in our own yard. When I caught myself worrying that she would be cold, I decided to stop thinking about it. The cardboard box sat on a table in the bedroom. When the time was right, I’d take care of it.
Friday, I decided that I needed to start resolving some things in my life. I was making some progress with the clutter. But the house is still pretty much a mess. The yard sale I had planned for in the summer, never happened. The stuff for sale is still sitting by the front door. I think most of it is going to a thrift store. Then I looked over at the box of Kathy and decided it was time. I knew that Kathy loved the ocean and the beach more than anything else. It looked like Saturday’s weather would be fairly nice for mid-November, so I started looking at Google maps to find a good spot.
Watch Hill. I looked at different places we used to go. Cape Cod National Seashore was really too far. But that made me think about lighthouses. I found one in Watch Hill, RI that would have been perfect. The location really extended into the water. So, no matter which way the wind was blowing I could find an angle. I even visualized releasing the ashes from the top.
But then I remembered Kathy and I had some history in the town of Watch Hill. On one of our later beach trips, we were window shopping in Watch Hill. Kathy asked me what I thought of a pair of earrings she saw in a shop window. I was pretty clueless. She really wanted them. Now. Watch Hill became a sore spot for her. So, that was out.
Moving along, I looked at Hammonasset Beach in Connecticut. That was one of our reliable beaches. Nothing fancy but it was a short drive from Hampden. But there wasn’t a lighthouse. I kept zooming in with Google Earth. There was one place that looked really interesting from outer space. The Seaside in Waterford CT was a tuberculosis sanitarium for children in the 1930s. In the 1990s it was a mental hospital with a less than ideal reputation (deaths). And it might be haunted. So, that was out.
Lighthouse Park. Moving along the coast I located a place called Lighthouse Park in New Haven, CT. Judging by Google Images it is a prime place for weddings and wedding photography. It is a city park with an antique carousel and a small beach. It was also close enough that I can go back there from time to time.
When the cardboard carton arrived I was afraid to open it. Would it get all over the place? But friends told me the ashes were in a separate, sealed container. And no, they did not “just dump her loose into the cardboard box.”
On Saturday morning I finally opened the cardboard box and removed the black plastic container holding the ashes and some certificates from the crematory. I put the container in a backpack. It took about an hour or so to get there. They were setting up a Christmas light display with various characters outlined in lights. Kathy would have enjoyed the fact that she was hanging out with dinosaurs and other creatures. Marty peed on many of them. We walked around the old lighthouse, set back from the actual water. So there was no way to release the ashes right there. There was a stone jetty that would have been perfect but there were people fishing off of it. I also couldn’t picture myself getting out there with Marty without ending up in the water.
I ended up finding a little tidal pool down in front of the lighthouse. It was still a few hours before low tide. I let Marty off the leash and unpacked everything. I opened the black container. Her ashes were in a plastic bag. A blue twist tie and a small brass tag kept it closed. I opened the bag, poured her into the water and said goodbye. A cloud of ash started moving in the water away from the rocks. The sun was starting to get lower. I wanted to get one last look and take a photograph as a memory.
We All Fall Down. Before I knew it I was face first on the slippery rocks. I landed on my shoulder and my camera lens was open too. For a few seconds, I had trouble getting back up. Eventually, I straightened up and got the leash back on Marty. A few drops of water got on the lens of the camera, but it could have been worse. And although no one saw my face plant I was thinking Kathy had the last laugh.