This is a post I wrote back in March of 2008, three months after Jim died.
The kids and I traveled to Oklahoma, where Jim was born and where we both grew up. Well, he grew up in one part of Oklahoma, I grew up in another.
Anyway, we went to the farm where Jim was raised for a very solemn purpose.
We were going to spread half of his ashes there (the other half were to be spread later, at our lake house in Texas).
Jim's brother, sister-in-law and their daughter were also there from California. Jim's other brother and his wife, who live nearby, were also there. So it seemed like an appropriate time to attend to this gloomy task.
I have to tell you ..... in case you haven't realized it by now, I have a wicked sense of humor. As do my children. As did Jim.
Thus, it's difficult to know who they got it from.
But I digress.
The following post is about the spreading of Jim's ashes. Or at least the spreading of half of them (and truth be told .... the spreading of the second half wasn't much different than the first).
I wish we had taped it. Someone offered to take pictures, but I found that thought to be a little morbid.
That was before what shall henceforth be known as "The Spreading".
We are back. This picture is from Easter 1995 with Son #2. This is where we played with the kids on the farm, flew kites, played football with the boys and uncles, etc. This is where the original family house stood (the current house is behind me, the picture-taker). This is where Jim's ashes are (some of them). That was difficult and humorous and difficult some more. I wasn't sure what to do -- I've never done this before. No one wanted to be the "one" to do it.
Except for Son #3, who came right up and said, "I'll do it. Do you want me to do it?" I asked him if he was sure and he said yes. I have amazing children.
My father-in-law muttered, "He looks like he's feeding chickens." and he was right. That's exactly what it looked like so everyone started chiming in and making suggestions, while trying in vain to not crack up. I had of flash of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" when Mary and the gang went to the funeral of Chuckles the Clown (and yes, I realize that I am truly dating myself with that reference). It is very, very difficult to refrain from inappropriate laughter during times of stress.
There was a fair amount of wind so I suggested that Son #3 throw the ashes up in the air, which he promptly did. Right over his head. Then we all started yelling for him to get out from underneath the ashes that were coming straight back down, which he managed to do -- barely.
By this time the laughter could not, and would not be contained.
I thought I was going to wet myself.
And am not certain that I didn't.
Oh, and every once in a while Son #3 would look at his hand and then wipe it on his jeans .... much to Daughter #1's horror.
She kept yelling, "Stop wiping your hand on your jeans!!!" and everyone laughed. No, "laughed" isn't quite the right word.
We were actually guffawing (well, by "we" I mean everyone except Jim's dad).
We were almost hysterical at the thought of 'Dad/Jim being on the Son's jeans'.
It was not a serious affair.
I think my father-in-law was disappointed in us.
But I know, with certainty that Jim was happy.
Very, very happy.
As I said before .... he had a wicked sense of humor.
And .... as Daughter #1 said, "We already had the service. We have already gone through the eulogies and the talking and the grieving at his "Goodbye". I don't want to do it again."
I thoroughly agreed.
But before we finished I asked if anyone wanted to say anything and my father-in-law did. He talked to Jim in kind of a prayer. And we cried.
And then we were done.
That night I had a dream. When I remembered it Friday morning while I was getting ready to leave, I stopped and smiled.
In my dream Jim suddenly appeared to me. Out of thin air. I looked at him in surprise, but not shock (it was a dream, after all). He said to me, "Don't worry -- I can see you all of the time and I'm here with you. I'm watching you and the kids. It's OK -- I'm here." I asked him if that was really true and he said yes. Then he was gone. I'm not sure exactly what happened next, but I was in some kind of situation. Afterwards, he came to me again. He told me exactly what had just happened and what I had done. He said that to prove to me that he actually did see me. And I was happy. Very, very happy. And I was happy to remember it. I told the kids about it, and I told Jim's mom about it. Her eyes lit up again at that thought.
So do mine.