Monday, June 13, 2011

Baba's Burial

We buried my Baba this past Friday.

She passed away in February. In Northern Ontario you need to wait until the spring thaw before you can bury someone. So we picked June 10th - it being a PD day, we figured Baba's great grandchildren would not be in school and able to attend.

It was a cool, overcast day. The cemetary was relatively quiet. We were a very small group.

There were two other small groups of families at a couple of other grave sites that we passed on the way in and a few maintenance workers trimming grass on a knoll in the distance.

When we arrived and got to the pre-dug hole, I realized that though Francine and I had spoken to Alexander about Baba dying and about why we bury someone, we hadn't yet explained cremation to him. He saw the small pre-dug hole and asked if that little hole was where we were burying Baba.

Perhaps because my mind works like a child's I had visions of Alexander being horrified that someone would have violently crammed Baba's body into this tiny box measuring less than half a foot by a quarter of a foot. Francine and I exchanged a quick look of parental confirmation, that unspoken and quickly resolved debate about what, how and when we should explain things to our son about the world.

So before her ashes arrived with the gentleman from the funeral home, I knelt by the grave and quietly explained cremation to him. And yes, I used the example of what they had done with Darth Vader's body (the redeemed Anakin Skywalker) at the end of Return of the Jedi - sometimes it's best to explain things using situations and settings children are most familiar with. My son is into Star Wars big time right now so that helped him imagine it with something he recognized rather than trying to imagine a casket moving down a conveyer into a giant oven.

Then the gentleman from Lougheeds arrived with the ashes.

The prayers were said, a poem was read.

I placed her ashes into the grave and we each placed a rose on top.

When asked if there was anything to say I started to talk about Baba, but choked up and cut it short at just a few quick sentences.

That's the thing with me.

I can go on and on about things that are important to me (like when I've blogged about Baba), but sometimes have difficulty speaking them aloud.

The same thing happened when my Mom and I released my father's ashes into the lake near one of his favourite fishing spots. I had prepared a short speech and a snippet from W. H. Auden's Funeral Blues which I just couldn't bring myself to read aloud because the emotions simply ran too high.

I can put the words together, express my feelings perfectly when writing or typing. But verbalizing those very words is sometimes too much.

I guess that might be one reason I chose the path of writer.


Niki Dusick Cosby said...

As usual, Mark, when you write, especially about your family, you write from the heart. I'm glad that Auntie Annie is finally with Uncle Sam again. There are a whole bunch of Dusicks up there now watching over all the rest of us down here. That is comforting to me. Thank you for writing this. Love, Niki xxoo

Rodney Dusick said...

The Dusick family in Cambridge took time out on Friday to honour Baba's life in our own special way. Unable to attend due to a dance recital for Maddie, we remembered the life of our dear grandmother and great grandmother with a moment of silence at breakfast. I know Baba would have been fine with our absence given that since she knew and appreciated how hard Maddie worked at dance. She did love her Maddie!

I am so glad that I took the time to visit my Baba while she was still among us. While she was in the nursing home, I would take those long drives to Sudbury ( if only for the day ) just to sit and hold her hand, touch her cheek and watch her smile. The best times were when Taylor and Madison would accompany me and we would share our favourite Baba stories during the ride. I often felt bad seeing Baba in the home. Sometimes I would cry ( and when asked ) tell her something was in my eye. I take comfort that I spent time with her there when she needed it most. Unfortunately, others she was close to and extremely loving and generous to during her life, never made the effort and I feel sad for them. It has taught me to spend times with the ones you love while they are here.

I would also like to thank Carol Walton for her unwavering commitment to spend time with Baba at Laurentian, The Memorial Site and St. Joe's Villa. I hope you are reading this Carol. You are a special person.


Mark Leslie said...

Thanks, Niki.

And Rodney, thanks for sharing. You and your family were missed; but as you mention so eloquently, you were there with Baba when it really mattered. I'm similarly pleased for all of the years that I made seeing Baba, the essential Matriarch who bound our families together, a priority.

lime said...

oh heck, i couldn't even stand up and speak about my daughter at a ceremony celebrating the end of high school. i have zero fear of public speaking and have done so successfully in other settings, but that one...just too emotional.

i am just glad you have the gift of writing because you've shared some very significant things in very moving ways through your words. i'm sure family cherishes such remembrances too even if you can't share them aloud.