We were looking into a shallow hole we had dug with the tractor shovel. We were looking a thin layer of ashes that covered the bottom of the hole in front of us. We were kneeling in the dirt, running our hands through the ashes. My nieces and nephews were standing behind us in nervous somber quiet. “Look here. It’s one of his implants,” I said pointing to a titanium screw and post that was lying in the ashes. “There is another one,” said my brother. “I remember when he got those.” He paused. “That was right after she died.” “We should close this now.” And we did. With a simple pull on a hydraulic lever a flap of earth shut like a book-cover. Pines cover the traces with a gentle dust of needles.
A year later. He stood 100 yards to the south of that spot in a large tent pitched by the barn. He had risen to give the toast a his daughter’s wedding. As he spoke little brother and I leaned toward one another. “He looks so so much like our Dad right now. I never notice how much they looked alike before. It’s almost eerie.”
My children and I took a stroll through the grove of pines after dinner. “Do you know this place?” “Yes, dad.” We stood there in silence for a moment. It was time to move on.
It is a grace that we die, that we are dust and that to dust we shall return according to the will of the Father. No generation can arise until the one before falls away and makes room for it. And no generation raises up the next until it realizes that it must itself die and sees to it that it will pass life on to the next. And no generation truly becomes itself until it lovingly runs its hands through the last generation’s ashes and assumes responsibility for itself and others, becomes elders, and accepts the task of being keepers of life.