Ashes and Dust

It’s hard to imagine someone’s life reduced to a box the size of a loaf of bread.

Mom made her wishes known–she wanted to be cremated. It’s what she’d chosen to do with Dad, and it made more sense to her than buying a plot.

This isn’t an argument I will pursue. Some believe a casket and burial are the only way to go. Others tout cremation as what must happen because we’re running out of space to put folks who are no longer living.

My thinking is once dead, the person is gone. These bodies weren’t made to last forever.

Mom’s remains were delivered to my sister’s home. Packaged in plastic and secured in a cherry wood container, it came with her name in several places on the container.

They had guaranteed us it was Mom.

Not that I was concerned. Mom is no longer with us. Physical death is something that will happen to all of us, and her body gave out after a long run. God informs us that we began as dust and to dust we’ll return.

What was hard was to imagine all that Mom was contained in that small wooden box.

We’re all bigger than a bread box.

Mom was a character. Her personality was often larger than life, reflected by that line that Patrick Swayze says at the end of “Dirty Dancing“: “No one puts Baby in the corner.”

Mom was a force to be reckoned with. Never a wallflower, never one to hold back her opinions, she was outspoken at a time when women weren’t often given the floor. She made herself and her ideas known. She was fearless, choosing not to back down from challenges.

Mom and I often knocked heads; our relationship often felt uncomfortable. The older I’ve gotten, though, the more I’ve realized it has more to do with me being like her.

Not anything I’d have admitted when I was younger.

What she left me was a legacy of courage and possibility. A sense of adventure and fun.

And here I thought we just didn’t get along.

As people it’s easy to be confined and defined by what we’ve done wrong. By our mistakes. It was, too often, easy for me to dismiss Mom as not really caring about the person I was. Because I wasn’t the person I thought she wanted me to be.

I believe she saw herself in me. Some of it was good; some not so good.

We’ve all got potential to be more than the limits our minds and fears give us. If we give ourselves the freedom to believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God who made us intentionally in love, we have His power to pursue dreams greater than our perceived limitations.

Mom learned that. She grew in appreciation of the person God had made her to be.

I’ve often hesitated to try things for fear I’d look foolish or fail. True character and success aren’t a lack of failure; it’s how we proceed forward after we pick ourselves up.

Nobody wants to be put in a corner.




2 responses to “Ashes and Dust”

  1. Beautifully writtten. Very honoring to your mom and your relationship. Nothing is easy about this but may Jesus walk you through. This is a week to cling to that legacy of courage.


    1. Thanks, Ames. As you can see I’m behind on EVERYTHING. But I deeply appreciate your love and compassion–more than you know.


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