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The Releasing of Gran and Ga’s Ashes

The Releasing of Gran and Ga’s Ashes
Aeryn Pettifor

‘Goodbye Gran and Ga’, I whisper, setting free your souls in the river.
I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Just moments before, an irrelevant, irrational thought crossed my mind:
‘I am carrying dead people in my hands.’
It’s not funny,
I can’t remember why I smiled.

I would be lying if I said I remembered you, Gran.
You would always be Great Granny to me.
But the tales told by others are enough
To paint a picture in my head.
Photos of you, that I dust every week,
Firmly plant your smile in my mind.
And the fondness in Mummy’s voice
Is clear to everyone.
Even with the glistening tears that roll down her face.
I want to comfort her,
But I don’t know how.

I remember you, Ga.
A lonely old man that wished to reunited with his wife.
I remember the smiles that lit up your face whenever I stepped in the room.
A little ray of sunshine, that reminds me of the way
Your ashes settle on the bottom of the river,
Too heavy to move,
Yet look like little patches of sunlight against the jet-black rocks.
You would have loved it here.
Maybe for a picnic.
But then you would complain about the biting wind,
With Great Granny gently shushing you.

But I am ashamed.
I feel no sorrow;
I am sad, but sad for strangers.
I am appalled at my lack of emotions
When Mummy is crying a few feet away.
And I am fooling no-one.
You’re both too old to reach here,
A mile or two from the reservoir where a relation of yours drowned himself.
Life is precious, I think,

Standing on the old, stone bridge.
We’re in a valley but the cold still snaps me back
To the gentle way your ashes mix with the breeze.
You will mix with nature,
And over time, be forgotten,
As we, ourselves, become nature
And in turn will be forgotten.
In the heart of Buxton, I remember this day,
Trying to condense all my memories
Of you into one, happy picture.
But I can’t,
Not when I feel like I don’t know you.
I feel empty inside.
No emotions.

I look now at your gifts to me:
Encyclopaedias full of knowledge, and the most precious of all:
My silver locket.
It is empty,
Like me,
But soon will be filled with photos of you.

I can remember.
I will remember.

This is not the only poem about this day.
Mummy’s is more sophisticated;
She knew you.
It is just me and Mummy.
Mummy and me…
And you.
Granny and Grandad couldn’t get down here, over the treacherous rocks.
But we can,
And we did,
Because we knew you would like to be here,
Silently enjoying each other’s company,
Till the end of time.