Sunday, March 22, 2009

Scattering Ashes....

The pink rhododendron is planted. Front beds are edged, weeded, and ready for mulch. Grass had a first mowing. We planted everbearing strawberries, seeded bare spots, washed mildew off the front railing, and admitted defeat in the battle with rust stains on the front porch.

Each item on the list is checked off, except that I didn't find our dead dog.

We told the realtor we'd like to take the window treatments, the martin house, one rose bush and our dead dog. He said to put the first two in the listing agreement, take the rose and replace it, and take the dead dog and ahem, just don't mention it.

But I can't find her.

We had her cremated 12 years ago. It took several stops at the vet's office, short conversations with the staff about the logistics of having her cremated after she died, and making the preparations. I'd start to cry then I'd walk out, and come back a few days later to pick up where we'd left off. We purchased a ceramic urn, paid the fee, and set the date for this sweet member of our family who had been very sick for a year. We'd wait for Leslie to come home from camp because Lindy had been officially designated as her dog.

Weeks later we received the urn in the mail. It may have had a puppy on it. I'm praying it had a puppy on it. I put the urn on the top shelf of our master bedroom closet where it sat for three years because nobody in the family was ready to have the backyard funeral. Finally weary of worrying someone would tip the urn and we'd have dog all over the bedroom, I had a ceremony of one, or two if you include the dog. I buried the urn in our backyard, somewhere around the squirrel feeder, reasoning she'd like being near the squirrel feeder, since she'd often enjoyed chasing them. I imagine I buried the urn about a foot deep, so we would not be digging her up every year when it came time to plant petunias.

Today I grabbed the shovel and headed to the squirrel feeder. Don looked up and said, 'you're going to do the dasterdly deed?'

'I am.'

Thirty minutes later, after I'd completely destroyed the flower bed, trashed several hostas, and was expecting to hit China any minute, he said, 'Not that I want to start trouble, but why can't you just leave her? Would it be so awful to just leave her where she is?'

I told him I'd made a promise to Leslie that I'd take Lindy with us when we moved away someday, that Lindy would be with us wherever we lived and I felt like it was disrespectful to just leave her behind. He gently told me he really thought it was okay, but whatever - except that had I noticed I'd pretty much destroyed the flowerbed?

I shared my last hesitation - what if the new owners move into this house, and decide to dig up the flowerbeds, and hit an urn, and think it's someone's grandmother?

Because I cannot remember if there's a picture of a dog on that urn.

I didn't find her. After we have a signed contract, the loan is approved and the house passes inspection, after the furniture is all moved out, and we're leaving those last things behind like keys and garage door openers and cans of paint, I'll leave a note that somewhere on the property there is an urn full of ashes, and if they ever happen to discover it...

I think Lindy would love a 'scattering ceremony' with kids running through the woods, opened urn in hand. Even Leslie would approve of Lindy having one more time to play with kids again, after all those years of being buried somewhere under the squirrel feeder.


Barb said...

Oh no. I can't believe you can't find her and I'm trying not to imagine how frustrating and upsetting it really is, that you can't. I'd dig up the whole yard.

I suppose Don has a point, but I understand how you (and Leslie) feel about this. The note is a very good idea. If there is no picture of a dog on that urn, and the new owner comes across it, it could be a tad upsetting!

Do you suppose a metal detector would help you locate the urn?

Becky said...

Oooooo, oooo ooooo I think Barb is right ... a metal detector. Great idea!!

This is just the sweetest story though. Someone who does not have a dog heart would not understand. But I have a dog heart.

My husband reminded me just yesterday that it has been 2 years since our beloved Abby died. TWO YEARS of clean floors and no hair, of neighbor's dogs pooping in the yard and all the squirrels and cats running free. TWO YEARS is a long time.

Sarah said...

I don't know if this is supposed to make me sad or not, but it did! Not so much that Lindy is dead, even though she was a great dog, but that she's dead and you can't find her, and it's not really her, but Leslie, you're leaving behind. Do you think that's why it matters so much? If Leslie still lived in Texas, it might not matter that you can't find her. I hope you find her :) If not, a little note might not be such a bad idea!

secondofwett said...

I have thot of this very thing if we ever move...the trouble is we didn't have cremation and an urn...but I'm afraid we have the whole fact we have several....although we don't publicly talk about this because we're not quite sure if it's against the bylaws! In fact, my oldest son declares that we can never move because one of them was his beloved Old English sheepdog and he never wants to leave her!

Barb said...

Oh, you've added that precious photo of Leslie and Lindy since I was here early this morning. Sigh. I hope you find her. I think it would be very fitting to give her to Leslie, to bury at her new home. That photo just tugs at my heart.

Gretchen said...

I think Sarah is onto something about the urgency of finding Lindy's urn and leaving Leslie in PA. I know you have so much to look forward to, but I know these heart moments can be tough.

BTW, I happen to have a dog's heart, too. I'd see nothing unusual about the back yard destruction in search of ashes. :)

Dianne said...

Maybe instead of digging, wait till the ground softens up a bit then probe it at 12-18" depths and 6 or so inches apart - with something long and sharp - work in a radius around where you think it was.

Good luck and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks - if it's meaningful to you, then it's meaningful!

Jen said...

Im with Barb..I would probably dig the whole yard up. Scott would kill me and probably threaten to put me in the urn as well....but I have a heart for is just the sweetest thing that you remembered your promise....i love this part..keep us informed as you set up to move....if you find her.

Renna said...

What a bittersweet story.