~Momma's Ashes~

WordWulf By WordWulf, 2nd Feb 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

~My youngest son of twenty-three years returned to California with me to spend a few days visiting. Momma was with us in her plastic bag in the black plastic box with the lid that will never close~

~Momma's Ashes~

She lived a hard life in a world where survival was the everyday waterline of success. I left her in that white room six years ago to howl a lament in the hospital parking lot, what turned out to be her death song. My sister came to join me. “Momma’s pain is over,” she said, “She is lost to us now.” I hurried back to the room to visit Momma’s hollow corpse.

Some weeks later my good sister advised me that she, two of my brothers, and other two sisters were taking Momma’s ashes from Colorado to Wyoming. They intended to make a ceremonial goodbye, to loose Momma’s remains on the Wyoming wind as Momma had done with her husband, our stepfather, five years before. She released him to the garden and the small square of grass on their red dirt, moo cow, Wyoming ranch. My sister asked me, “Will you go with us?”

Oldest of seven children, Momma’s first son, I replied, “No, I’m not ready to say farewell to her and would never leave her with the monster man, our stepfather. The oldest of my brothers, fourteen months younger than myself, was “doing time” in the prison at Canon City. Momma never liked him much, favored me always. The two of us, my brother and me, knew a different kind of life than our siblings. We shared a love/hate bond because of the Momma dynamic. I asked my sister to divide Momma into seven parts. “Take them all to Wyoming and do what you will with five of them. Bring the two last back to Colorado after they have witnessed five degrees of separation. These two parts I will keep for myself.”

Life goes on. Six years later I found myself married to what finally felt like “the right woman” for me. She was sixth born in a middle-class family of seven children. Her father was a successful pharmacist and devoted father, her mother a good church woman and dedicated wife and mother. My wife regaled me with happy stories of family road trips and camp-outs, girl scouts and bible study. The younger man, me, would have become confused and angry listening to stories from that “other world.”

We live in California now, my wife and I, 1280 miles away from my five children in Colorado, each of those miles the one too far. Having spent her childhood in Washington and Oregon, many of my wife’s stories have the ocean as a backdrop, the most significant of those, in my opinion, were the two trips she and her siblings took, the singular dual ritual of releasing father and mother into the wind and vast deeps of the Pacific, a place they both admired, respected, and loved.

Recently I drove those 1280 miles to spend a couple of weeks with my children and grandchildren. My youngest son of twenty-three years returned to California with me to spend a few days visiting. Momma was with us in her plastic bag in the black plastic box with the lid that will never close.

My Colorado boy wanted to see the ocean and so off we went. My wife drove us the 150 squiggly miles to where California ends in the west. I took two pinches of Momma from the box, spread them on the sand-silt of the beach, pressed my fingers to my lips, tasted the silken residue of Momma’s ashes.

My son stood ankle deep in the tide. “Woo!” he whooped ecstatic, speaking into his projector while filming himself, his vast, endless and beautiful youth enveloped and against the terrible roar of the ages. I returned my gaze to the sand, water licking at my boots, and she was gone.

Momma was afraid of water. She took no comfort in its swell and weigh. Still I gave a bit of her back. She would have liked my wife’s people, her parents. The me I am now would have too. In another life where it was safe to let go we might have been regular folks, good people, like them.

My brother is bitter, wants no part of what is left of Momma. The ashes left are mine to do with whatever I choose. I’ll take her with us when we move back to Colorado, repeat the ocean ritual in those great Rocky Mountains we both loved so well. I might never let go of my Cherokee Mother, she will certainly never let go of me. If it were to be, the lid would close o’er that plastic box of Momma’s Ashes.

Tom (WordWulf) Sterner

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author avatar Tranquilpen
22nd Aug 2011 (#)

Hello Word Wulf, what an awesome read my friend, thank you so much.

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