Grab a drink, sit down and get ready for a long story
So, my aunt died a month ago.
She was the youngest of 3 sisters. My Mom is the stereotypical Middle Child and her older sister is the Control Freak.
When the funeral director arrived, there was a family meeting that included my Mom, aunt, Husband of my aunt that died, his sister and me. Mom and my aunt already knew that their sister would be cremated, but they assumed it would take place after a funeral. You know what happens when you assume?
They were informed that there would be no funeral and the ashes were being claimed by my aunt's sister-in-law's 16 year old daughter (who has a "collection" of family cremains...because the urns are pretty). When this announcement was made I looked to my right. My Mom was sinking in her chair and turning white. My Control Freak aunt was turning purple and started arguing loudly through her clenched teeth.
Our side of the family got my uncle's side of the family to agree to a short visitation at the funeral home, after the cremation. There would be a Catholic priest to say a few prayers and my Mom would read a poem. I saw that Mom was okay with this, but my aunt was still furious.
I drove my Mom and aunt home. I spent the 30 minute ride worried that one or both of them would have a stroke.
I laid awake until 3am, wondering if there was a way to give Mom and my aunt a better sense of peace.
I hatched a plan.
At 9am I called the funeral home and asked if I could have a small portion of the ashes. They said it was possible if my uncle would sign an agreement. My Mom gave me a small porcelain box that would probably hold 2 tablespoons of ashes. It was white and had pretty pink porcelain flowers on the lid.
I went to the nursing home, sat on my uncle's bed, held his hand and asked him if I could have a small amount of ashes. He said "You loved your aunt and she loved you, and I would never say no to you".
He and I wrote up an agreement for the funeral home and he signed it.
I called my siblings, told them I was throwing a funeral and they were invited. They know I'm the family-designated BadAss.
I decided I wanted to bury the ashes in the family plot, in the Catholic cemetery where all my family has been buried for almost 100 years. We would dig a small hole at my grandparent's grave and bury the little box of ashes. The cemetery charges $800 to open a grave and I said "EFF that!!" and began researching the Massachusetts law regarding disposal of such things.
One of the many cemetery laws in MA says something like...blah,blah,blah, A small amount of ashes of a family member may be buried in a family plot WITHOUT APPROVAL OR CHARGE BY THE CEMETERY...more blah,blah,blah.
BINGO. I took that as all the permission I needed. The funeral director presented me with the porcelain box with the ashes. They had sealed it for me with ceramic glue. I wrapped it in bubble wrap (yep, I'm classy. I didn't want the box to get all dirty) and wrapped it with a pink ribbon.
We went to the cemetery. I get out of the car with a garden trowel. Uncle Husband of Control Freak gets out of the car with a giant hole-digging shovel. I told him we were trying to be a little more discreet than that. Control Freak aunt said the gravesite was too far to walk, so we said "so stay in the car".
Our little procession was Uncle Giant Shovel, me, Mom, my sister, my brothers and my sister-in-law. I carried the box and my sister carried flowers. Even though I knew what section we were looking for, it took us a little while to find the plot. When we found it, my brother said "Now HURRY before we all get arrested". My sister, the sensible one, kept shaking her head at me. My uncle dug the (pretty deep) hole, put the box in, covered it and put the circle of grass back on top.
We said a few prayers and ended with the traditional Catholic funeral prayer...
Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed
through the mercy of God rest in peace.
We put the flowers down and said our goodbyes.
As we were leaving the cemetery we told our uncle to hurry up and get that shovel out of sight. He said "Why, you had permission"
I said "Ummmm, not really"
He said "WHAAAATTTTTT???" and nearly ran to his car.
Mom said "Now I'm at peace".
My brother said "Gee,no one will ever know she's there. I work at Staples. I could write her name on a Post-it note and stick it to the family headstone."
Then my brothers and I went on a search for all our dad's relatives. We were looking for our Great-Grandfather Prosper, who did not, and is buried in the old Pauper Section.
My Mom was grateful that she raised at least one BadAss child and my sister is horrified that I'm a BadAss and my brothers are amused by their BadAss sister.