Love what is mortal


On Saturday we buried my mother’s ashes. In the Catholic section of Greenwood Cemetery, we gathered – Both of my siblings, most of our children, one beloved first cousin and his sons, my uncle, and Mom’s best friends. After a week of intense 100+ degree heat, the glorious weather made the gathering a relief. It was wonderful to see everyone, and as we waited for the last folks to arrive, there was much hugging and smiling.

Then the service began. My brother-in-law John was our unofficial pastor. There was a Catholic seminarian (with unnaturally dark black hair) who led the rite of Christian burial, and he began the service. We all stood in a circle around the small hole in the ground.

When the seminarian was finished and the holy water sprinkled, the family began. We read poetry, sang songs, read excepts from favorite books. There were readings from Mary Oliver, Sarah Kaye, e.e. cummings, Linda Ellis, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and the New Testament.

Each person who wished to put a handful of dirt in the box that held the box that held her ashes. We all said goodbye or shared a memory.

We all cried. We sang Dona Nobis Pacem, struggling with the round in the wind. My sister passed out little cups and my brother-in-law gave each of us a little splasheen of Scotch Whiskey. We sang our favorite family grace (Johnny Appleseed), toasted Mom, shook hands with the seminarian, and said goodbye to our favorite funeral home guy.

As we drove away, the rain sprinkled on us lightly. The truck from Bubba’s Digging (really) was already there to fill in the hole.

With dew about my feet may I walk
With beauty may I walk
With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me may I walk
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk
It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty
—- the Beauty Way of the Navajo

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