From the “Only in the South” files via NPR….
When a loved one dies and is cremated, family members face a tough decision on what do with the ashes. Some want the final resting place to be spectacular — spread in the Grand Canyon, launched into space, sprinkled in Times Square; others just keep Aunt Jane’s remains in an urn at home.
“The ashes get put on the mantel, stay there for a couple of years, and then a couple of years later, they get put in the attic,” says Thad Holmes. “A few years later, the house gets sold and, ‘Oh gosh, we forgot the ashes!'”
Holmes, a conservation enforcement officer in Alabama, and his buddy Clem Parnell, came up with an unusual way to honor the dead. Their company, Holy Smoke, takes your loved one’s ashes and turns them into ammunition.
The idea was born one night when Holmes and Parnell were working the late shift, talking about how they wanted to be buried. Holmes said he wanted to be cremated, sprinkled on a nearby lake. His partner had another idea.
“I want my ashes placed into some good turkey-load shotgun shells,” Parnell said. That way, someone could go kill a turkey with him, Holmes tells Robert Smith, host of weekends on All Things Considered.
“He could rest in peace, knowing that one more turkey, the last thing he saw, was Clem screaming at him at 900 feet per second.”
Holmes’ first reaction when he heard his friend? “He just expressed what I’d like to do with my ashes.”
Holmes says his company’s services begin after the funeral. They take the ashes that are sent to them, put them into the requested shells, then ship the ammunition back to the sender. Their biggest concern, he says, is handling the ashes sensitively.
“We want people to understand that each shipment of ash is handled with utmost care,” he says. “So it’s not a simple process, you just going out, finding somebody that can go, ‘Here, I’ll throw ’em in there.’ It just doesn’t work like that.”
Holy Smoke, which has been in business for a couple months, charges $850 for a case of shells. The company has shipped out two orders. The feedback, Holmes says, is positive.
MORE: Ashes To Ammo: How To Reload Your Dead Loved One : NPR.
I debated which of my blogs to post this on, but I think it’s more about being “Lost in the 21st Century” than “My Southern Gothic Life”….
Or maybe it’s more about finding our way in the 21st Century…
Bear with me, as this one’s a little out there….
So far this year, my partner, Steve, and I have lost at least 3 major figures in our lives. Friends who personified different eras in our lives. People who were part of our growth, our development and who meant too damn much to us to lose them so soon…
People we hadn’t talked to a lot recently…..
But still, they were still key parts of our lives. Life moved on and we were just too caught up in the moments and minutiae of day-to-day living…
We were still aware of them, but somehow took them for granted. But, we still felt better about life knowing they were a part of it. We thought that we were still moving forward, maybe in different places at different paces, but still all on the Journey.
If we were not physically together, we were still psychically together. We still shared our collective pasts and the energy that our shared pasts generated. We just assumed we would touch base and catch up again sometime soon….
We always thought there was time…
I lost so many of the key figures in my birth family back in the 1980’s. I once joked that we spent so much money at the local funeral home during that decade, that they should name a wing after us. Since then, I’ve been much closer to my friends and built a family of choice. I realize now, I have always done this… So all of these people were family. Mine or Steve’s and, thus, ours together. They were part of the energy of our lives….
They were, in that way, family.
You see, I just can’t separate close friends, or friends who were once close, from family. Family is a fluid concept for me. I don’t believe in the “standard” definition of family. To me, family is a kind of shared energy between people. God knows, it can be either positive or negative energy, that sometimes changes over time, goes back and forth from one kind to the other, but is always there. Our energy is shared and connects us….
Some people, be they by birth or by choice, are family of a time and place because of energy that is shared in that moment. Some people, who become so much a part of our own energy, are family forever, no matter what…
And when we lose them, maybe it’s the energy we miss as much as the people….
Or maybe the people are the energy and the energy is the person…
The people we have lost recently were admittedly family of a time and place. They were a part of times of incredible shared energy. I think that’s what makes mourning them different and difficult. But it does pull us together again with those who remain who shared those times.
Maybe we don’t so much mourn the people we’ve lost as we mourn the times they represent in our lives. And the fact that the energy of that era is no longer part of our daily lives…
But the funny thing is, as they die, the past becomes more real and alive. We remember who we were, who they were and how special those times in our lives were. The energy returns and intensifies….
Maybe we aren’t losing their energy, but feeling it transmute into something different. Maybe they aren’t really dead as long as we remember them and what they and the times we shared meant and signified. Maybe their energy- our shared energy- is just shifting….
I’m not a classically religious person, but I am spiritual. I feel energy….
There is a law of physics that says energy can’t be created or destroyed, it can only be changed….
And the older I get, the more I believe in that law….
Filed under Religion, Scott's Commentary
Tagged as Death, Energy, Family, religion, Spirituality