Ashes to ashes

This morning I buried my father under the rosebush.

My stepmother had come up to eat with us the night before and she’d mentioned going away to his favourite place and scattering his ashes in the next few weeks. I’d tentatively asked if I could have a small amount to nurture the rosebush that I acquired on his behalf and she’s agreed.


Somewhere in this blog is a post about my father’s final day. How one of the wineries I went to regularly for work was closing down and the historic heritage roses on the property were to be bulldozed into the ground; this was happening at the same time he was dying. So I enlisted my husband and when we drove home so I could get some more sleep for the next night shift, I insisted we stop off at this winery and SAVE (remove) one of these rosebushes.


Which we did. I am pretty sure I wrote about it here but I really can’t be arsed looking it up. All I remember was us discussing heatedly the best way to dig up extensive rosebush roots, culminating in me throwing a chicken sandwich at his head.


We made up, got the rose home and potted up, and slept for a little in preparation for what turned out to be the final night of my father’s life.


The rose is a glorious yellow, with an incredibly strong scent, and has lived ever since. I must confess that I was superstitious at first – if it died, due to my lamentable lack of green thumb, would that mean I was cursed? The pressure to keep it alive, even if only self-applied, was immense.


Funnily enough, I didn’t think anything like that at this go-around. I was a bit disconcerted that the ashes (which my stepmother had practically canonized in the last three years) were so…well, mundane looking is the best way to describe them. They came packaged in a screw top plastic jar, just like those containers of preserved fruit from the supermarket. The contents were a sort of silvery grey with chunks.


Husband and I looked at each other. My stepmother expressed her concern that it would be too much for me to touch them and that maybe he could take care of it and she withdrew so she wouldn’t have to see. I felt that maybe I was supposed to be suffering more than I actually was so I handed a spoon to my beloved and asked him to do the honours.


He scraped a hole in the rootball of the rose and transferred a few scoops of old Dad into it. (By my incredibly accurate mental measure chart, about three tablespoons full). Then he patted the earth back down on top of the hole, I stuck a yellow rose bud on top, and he asked me if he should put the spoon in the dishwasher.


I may be very accepting of death (because I’ve fucking had to be) but there are no circumstances under which I could consider eating my pudding with the same spoon used to inter the last of good old dad, no matter how sterilized!


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