We picked up my dad’s ashes from the vets on Monday. Those compact little stone urns that you see in movies? A lie. The ashes were in a big, gray plastic container and it was heavy. It was strange to think of someone reduced to a pile of ash when they were once a whole person, I just hadn’t imagined that pile of ash would weigh a couple of kilos.
This did a lot to reassure me that we weren’t going to be scattering Fluffy’s ashes, because after finding out that the funeral director would be leaving them there for me to pick up, I had images of a slapstick accidental switch, with hilarious consequences. I hadn’t figured out what the hilarious consequences would be, but I did find the image of a sombre affair, only to find out afterwards that we’d scattered old Ethel’s cat, amusing.
The Marine Rescue took us out on their boat and we scattered the ashes in the harbour. My brother did the scattering, leaning over the edge of the boat, attached to the rail by a clip so that he didn’t fall in. I thought I would be fine, but it was upsetting. This is the end. He’s really gone. It’s a finality that still doesn’t feel real – there aren’t any second chances. Once someone is gone, they’re gone. I don’t have the chance to go back and try to get to know him better, or the chance to work through our differences together. Not that he would have been willing.
As I watched the ashes melt into the water, I saw a fine dust of ash rising in the air and I couldn’t help wandering if Papa was going up my brother’s nose.
The Marine Rescue were great, after we scattered the ashes, they took us into the open water to follow the spray of bougainvillea’s that my dad’s best friend had thrown into the water. As we left the harbour, a pod of dolphin’s followed us out, disappearing one minute and then reappearing closer to the boat. I was disappointed that they grew bored and we left them behind quickly.
It was a beautiful day and it was a beautiful end to scattering the ashes – especially after four months of waiting for everyone to have the time.
I stayed with my brother in Armidale, a four hour drive from where we scattered our dad’s ashes and a six hour drive from my own home. My brother doesn’t drive and it was a good excuse for a road trip. I love road trips.
I also love early morning starts. I love how quiet the roads are, how still and cold and fresh early mornings are. I love that it’s still dark – I love the isolated feeling. I left to go back home at 4am on Tuesday morning and my car was coated in thick frost. When I finally got out of Armidale (it’s a small town that has only one petrol station open at that time), there was thick fog covering the road and I played Swerve the Bunnies for the first part of the drive along the back roads.
I know that rabbits are destructive to the Australian landscape, but I couldn’t let myself run over them. Luckily I didn’t come across any native animals, although just before the mountains there was a dead wombat, legs sticking up in the air.
As much as I love road trips, I often wish that I wasn’t doing them solo. It’s not so much that I get tired of the driving, it’s more that I get tired of my music and seeing the scenery by myself.
I remembered to stop and take some photos, but there were so many beautiful views that I didn’t have a chance to capture because there wasn’t anywhere to pull over. Thunderbolts Way, in the ranges, is absolutely stunning – the steep roads twist through the mountains and once the trees clear, you can see the rolling hills growing darker the further away they get. I was disappointed that I hadn’t stopped the night before to take photos, because the morning sun wasn’t high enough to get past the hills in the distance.
These are the photos I managed to take. I’m now looking forward to my next road trip, whenever it will be. Although next time I’ll make sure to have more music to listen to, because I went through every song in my playlist and now I don’t want to hear any of it again for a very long time.