Joint Remains…

My father died a little more than two years before my mother.

His ashes were carried from Broadstairs to London by hubs, when he moved my mother into her flat, and took up residence in my brother’s garage to gather dust.

When my mother died I made arrangements for the funeral home to collect her in a hearse and transport her back to Broadstairs.  Daddy’s ashes went along for the ride.

Thus began my private agony of what to do with their joint remains.

I suggested to my brother we combine them and divide the mixed ashes between the two urns.

We could then be free to do our individual rituals since neither of us could agree on a final resting place.

My brother bought a third urn not liking the idea of combining their ashes.  He took them back to his London garage where more dust was waiting to gather.  I left my single urn at the funeral home for later collection.

I considered an interment at the local catholic church in Broadstairs they had attended in their later years.  None of us, my hubs, my visiting son and youngest daughter, liked the spot.

I considered a memorial in the form of a bench along the promenade, or in a favoured park overlooking the sea but the waiting list was too long and I won’t mention the cost!

Four months later I decided a scattering would be in keeping with their non-verbal wishes, so as a little family, my oldest daughter was visiting this time, we stood on the pier steps near Stone Beach where they’d walked their dog faithfully every day.

The tide was high and the wind was gusting off the North Sea, blowing unfavourably in my direction.  I had prepared a short service after which I unceremoniously dunked the urn into bitterly cold water.  I swirled it under the waves in a sort of drowning of my parents as I let the sea take their ashes.

Nothing beautiful or poetic about it.  A portion of my parents’ had undergone their final interment into their beloved sea.

As the year progressed I began to think I would rather like a marker in the beautiful graveyard of our parish church of St. George’s, the one we rave about so much.


I asked and received permission for a memorial stone to be placed in the grounds.


I dithered again.  Having been told I could, I wondered if I should?  Catholics remembered in an Anglican graveyard?!

I had dinner wth my brother.

“I still haven’t done anything with Mum and Dad’s ashes,”  he said.

They must be thick with dust by now, I thought.

“I would like to do something before you leave,” he continued.

I told him what I had thought of doing.

“Let’s do that!”  He surprised me by saying, “I can’t get a space in the Catholic churchyard and the city crematorium is non-denominational and no-where near a church, your churchyard sounds perfect.”

My faithfulness had paid off, I was able to acquire a final resting place for our parents.

I chose the spot in the graveyard.  It is beneath the Eastern stained glass windows,


where consecration takes place on the altar every Sunday and Holy day; where the single bell tolls at the elevation of the bread and wine changed into the body and blood of Christ; and where the bells ring out to call the faithful to services throughout the year.

What better place to rest my parents?

Like Highgate, it is a wild,


and overgrown,


with tombs and stones jockeying for attention



in the tangled woodland.  Rambling for acres it rubs shoulders with the village green and is sacred ground.

Hubs has dug the hole.  I commented that hundreds of years ago the able bodied men in the family would have done this task.

A marble slab bears their names for those who loved them to come and remember.

Mass will be said this evening to mark their year’s mind which falls today.

No doubt hubs will fill in the hole and help to place the stone.


Such a fine son-in-law and hubs.

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