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Evelyn R. Smith: On spreading the ashes -- just add water?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It all began when my great-niece Erin and I, along with a good friend Annie, were just chatting away, talking about nothing in particular. Both of them are young, while I am definitely aged -- in my eyes and in theirs. Out of the blue, Erin asked, "Aunt Evelyn, may I have some of your ashes when you pass away? I just want a baggie of you for my shelf."

The idea of part of me in a plastic bag after I'm gone didn't excite me one bit. Annie must have read my mind, because she chimed in, "Evelyn, Erin will place your ashes in a lovely sunshine-yellow urn, with hand-painted daisies on it."

Now that was a pleasant thought. But I had some questions.

"If I give part of me to Erin," I began, "what will happen on Resurrection Day? What if Erin should get my head, while the rest of my ashes are buried at Bowling Pet Cemetery, where Ted and I have our burial plots. What would my doggies think if I were to come forth on Resurrection morning with my head missing?"

Erin attempted to bring us back to reality with a commonsense approach. "I think, no matter what happens on Resurrection Day," she said, "your body becomes whole. If it doesn't, what happens to those poor souls who have been eaten by fish in the ocean?"

That brought to mind a conversation my husband, Ted, had with a friend once, who asked, "If a person is cremated, how can God resurrect a body from ashes?" Ted, with a straight face, answered, "That's an easy one. All He has to do is add a little water -- and stir."

"Just add water -- Insta-Evelyn!" Erin responded.

Then, I added my two-cents' worth. "I guess it should be no problem with God! All He has to do is type our DNA into His computer and click on 'Make Clone.' Bingo! There we are!"

Annie was still on a roll. "Now, this idea of what will happen to Evelyn's ashes, please let me grab this and run. Humor me, OK?

"The scene is heaven on Resurrection Day. Several of the saints are helping the angels gather the children home. Gabriel comes running up to St. Peter, shouting, 'I can't find Evelyn's left leg and right elbow!'

"St. Peter tries to calm Gabriel. 'Don't get excited. I have a memo here from Evelyn herself. She says, "When my time comes, most of me will be at the pet cemetery, but a little of me will be with my loving great-niece Erin."' Relieved, Gabriel went off to collect the rest of Evelyn.

"St. Peter sighs loudly as he turns to St. Paul. Shaking his head, he says, 'The next problem will be finding all of Annie.' Peter sighs again. 'She has never been well organized. You remember how it was with her at tax time? She never could find everything she needed to take to the tax man. Each year she would drop off a shoebox full of stuff that did not help, and he would have to tell her what he really needed, then wait until she went on a grand search? So, who knows where Annie has gotten all of herself tucked away.'"

There was a moment of silence. Then Erin opined on Annie's and my theological discussion:

"I'm surely glad that God didn't put you two in charge of the Resurrection!"

Smith is a writer who lives at Edgewood Summit.


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