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Kickball at the Ash Spreading

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I was up at the plate, wiping my feet on the turf, eyeing the pitcher’s every move. I spat in my mind, waved to the crowd, and prepared to drive it home. A kick-balling Babe Ruth. I wound my foot back, brought it down hard…and missed, because Uncle Coleman was hollering that the hotdogs were done. I dashed over to grab a dog, straight off the barbecue, and an iced coke. “Hurry up and eat,” he said, “we’re going to start soon.” I choked it down.
We made our way over to the bridge. We were brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, children and grandchildren, and a few of us in-between, all gathered to say our goodbyes. My dad carried the urn.
We had a system, starting with closest in relation and ending with just friends. We filed up in line, grasped the silver ladle, and scooped a big scoop of Grandmother. When it was my turn, I balanced the ashes gently on the side of the bridge, thinking.
These were the ashes of a phenomenal woman. These ashes had seen congestive heart failure multiple times, had been on oxygen tubes for most of my life, had seen surgery and ultimately cancer, but most of all, had been loving and compassionate.
These ashes had never been late on a birthday, had never been sparse on the phone calls, and had always been encouraging. These ashes had baked thousands of cookies for the soldiers fighting the first Iraqi war, had sewed many quilts for Project Linus. These ashes had raised my dad.
I mumbled my heart-felt goodbyes, and slowly tipped the ladle. The contents slipped out. It was a beautiful thing, seeing Grandmother twisting and turning, gliding down to the meandering waters below.





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