Yesterday, my paternal grandmother passed away. After a long life spent singing in the church choir, attending mass, and being the hub for tending to her 8 children and 12 grandchildren, she went the way all of us inevitably will, sifting from form to memory.
She was my last surviving grandparent.
Last night, I lit a fire out back in her honor. And it just so happened that a bundle of my maternal grandmother’s ashes sat beside me. They followed me home from a recent trip I took to see my mom. I never said a proper good-bye to her, when she passed away last December – not in a way that acknowledged that the breath of a life had been transferred back to its source. Her ashes then became symbolic of both of my grandmothers departures.
They became that of Mike’s grandmothers, too.
We added a small handful to the fire, and watched as the ashes both settled into the crackling embers and rose up amid the smoke, which caused the drying elm leaves above to rattle and dance.
We then set out in the darkness of 8pm in the autumnal mountains, to scatter the rest of the ashes. We set some adrift on the Bitterroot River and laid the remainder to rest in a grassy field surrounded by ponderosas.
A blessing to you all.
You gave us life.
You carried us on the same backs of all those who came before us.
We as your grandchildren are your continuation.
Now, we carry you forward,
on the same backs of all those who still remain,
and will soon follow in our footsteps.