They’d assumed that it would be a simple matter of removing what looked like a screw top cover to the container and setting his remains free. More than a cursory glance would have informed them that this was not the case. But.
The leader of the expedition had everything organised – the boat, the drinks, sunscreen, even the tide charts had been consulted.
The perfect day began peacefully. The water was calm. The party arrived and anchored off Peel Island – a favourite mooring and fishing destination of their father’s. The anchor held. The wine was chilled. The toasts were on the tip of their tongues when brother number two, the skipper of the voyage, produced, with an exuberant fanfare, the CASKET.
The sealed casket. The impregnable heavy duty moulded plastic casket.
Brother number two inspected the challenging object from above, below, examined both ends minutely finally declaring: “They must have got him in there somehow!” He tapped, shook, pressured each seal – all the while the three remaining siblings looked on with growing concern.
Brother number one (the elder) finally, quietly, patiently, requested his turn and amidst, first silence, then growing hilarity repeated brother number two’s ritual.
“Shit” says he “it’s totally sealed.”
Which at this stage was quite a superfluous observation.
The sisters sat and watched their father’s sons, sons of a handyman by trade, grapple with this object. The younger, the boat owner, began to search the boat for a suitable tool. First a can opener appeared, then a fishing knife. Each of which proved inadequate.
“There must be some way to get this fucking thing open.” was repeated more than once as a hopeful mantra. Then from deep in the bow of the boat, beneath the foredeck anchor well, emerged a hacksaw blade.
The reverence of the ritual had by now been completely lost.
Three siblings on a still winter’s day, forty minutes from the mainland with an esky full of prawns and three bottles of their father’s favourite wine, sat, wine glasses in hand and watched while brother the younger hacked into the impermeable plastic box with a serrated edged, rusty blade.
Hacksaws never cut straight. The blade is too flexible and follows the weaknesses in the material being attacked. Now three held their breaths and watched the blade zig-zag slowly down the end of the container – it should have been as simple as slicing the crust from the end of a loaf of bread.
Two gave advice. The third, the youngest, not a good sailor at the best of times, sat ashen faced praying for it all to end.
Finally, after the application of a screwdriver to help prise the scar open the ashes were exposed. The team relaxed, uncorked a bottle of wine and, in a rather anticlimactic act, unceremoniously dumped the ashes overboard and headed for home.