Two sons, two daughters in law, one sister and three of five grandchildren – eight people gathered to farewell a beloved father, brother, poppa. We’re all pleased to be together.
“It’s further than I remember” my brother remarks.
The young ones are hungry and save me from making a caustic comment.
“Shall we do the deed or eat first?”
We decide to eat. We’re all here. Dad’s safely belted into the back seat so there’s no rush.
We break out a simple lunch of sandwiches and a few containers of assorted deli fare. kalamata olives, humous – ironically it’s mostly Greek from our sometime Greek suburban enclave of West End. There’s the obligatory thermos of stewed tea and a plastic tupperware container of milk. My mother would recognise all this. I quietly observe that now we’re the next generation of elders we’ve become more like our parents than we ever planned. I’m the one with a fascination with Tupperware. My worst fears are coming true.
“So” my brother asks, “What’s the plan?”
I say there isn’t one as such.
“I just thought we’d deposit him in the river, say whatever comes to mind and watch him float off. Let’s just let it happen.”
This is all well and good in theory of course but there are eight of us and everyone has an opinion – all except the elder niece who is curled up in the back seat in a foetal position, arms around dad. She loves him dearly but this is actually about her trying to recover from a violent stomach upset which has attacked her out of nowhere. She’s not happy.
Dad’s sister is the most sensible.
“If you do it here it’ll be rather difficult” she points out.
And then we notice there’s a blustery southerly blowing across the river straight into our faces. It’s agreed that the other side of the river would be a safer bet.
“What about getting him out?” asks my son, “out of the plastic box?”
This triggers daughter in law number one to launch into the story of her father’s final day. Four siblings setting off in a tinnie across Moreton Bay to give their father’s ashes a fitting final resting place in his favourite playground.