I was cleaning up the house and folding laundry I’d tossed on the bed in Papa Bob’s room because some of the grandchildren were coming over (it is spring break)– when the phone rang and my friend Don asked for the measurements of the cardboard mailer Dad’s ashes were in. He had some time right now, and decided to make a cedar box for them. It was on the dresser with the orange FRAGILE stickers from Alaska Seaplanes still on it. As Don and I chatted I looked for a measuring tape,”What are the odds that someone who owns a lumberyard has one handy?” I said– and found a ruler in my desk drawer quicker. It was 7 inches wide, 9 inches long and 5 inches deep.
I know, how can Dad be reduced to such a small, though weighty, package? Where did he go?
Before I could think about that, I signed into a Zoom board meeting for an hour, and then raced off to pick up the girls. One didn’t feel well, she thought she might throw up, so we agreed she should stay home. That meant that CC and I had a rare one-on-one date. (She is now a very busy 12 year-old. I know, how can that be?) We went to Sarah J’s food trailer and ordered lunch and two cookies to go — ( we split the lemon snickerdoodle and brought the mocha espresso shortbread to Chip at the lumberyard), came home and ate and talked and walked the dogs on the beach in a gap in the drizzle and talked some more, and made tea and cocoa, and played Uno and then Sorry while listening to CC’s “Happy” pop tunes playlist. She says she chooses positive songs “because they make me feel good.”
Just as her mother came to get her, Becky, who is married to Don, arrived with her old friend “How many dogs do you have in here? “Ann, to pick up Papa’s Bob’s ashes to be sure they fit in Don’s box. “We won’t seal it in case you want to take out some to scatter someplace, or your sisters want a handful. Some people do,” Becky said.
CC and her mom, Becky and Ann and that box, all left just as Chip was coming home from work.
As Becky got in her car I reminded her to be careful with her cargo. I mean, I’d hate to spill it. She laughed.
And Just like that, Papa Bob left the building.
I leave Sunday with my sister to clean out his old house and prepare it to sell. The Hudson Valley farm looks nice in the spring. My late mom’s daffodils may be blooming. There will be fresh milk for the coffee.
The last time I was there, it must be three years ago now– he lived here about two– even though Papa Bob wasn’t feeling his best, and had suffered a little stroke– when I arrived from the airport after the long cross country trip it was late, but all the lights were on. Inside, the table was set, there was salad in a bowl and he was in the kitchen heating sauce and water for spaghetti.”I knew you’d be hungry,” he said, pointing me toward the wine, “It’s nice to have you home,” he said.