Mingle Them Together
My parents' great love story continues to swell in my heart so often these days. My sister and I had asked Dad to please tell us where to scatter ashes after their deaths and he had only one request: "Mingle them together. Whoever dies first, keep the ashes until the other one dies and then mingle us together." Of course. What else would matter to him except that they be together even unto death? What else caused him to look upon her dying body and then go on ahead of her to make sure everything was prepared? It still seems surreal to me.
But there have been a couple of times since then that have begun to make it all real. First was when we went to the grocery store to pick up a local newspaper so that we could have copies of their obituaries. There they were, side by side, the pictures of each of their faces shining out at us with enormous light and joy. "Did this really happen?" I wondered. They had told us for years that they would die together. In all those Arizona retirement years Dad joked that they had a plan to drive their car over the Grand Canyon together when they were old and it was time to go! God honored their greatest wish, but fortunately in a much easier, gentler manner!
On the way back home to Colorado, John and I stopped at the place where Mom and Dad first met, when he was a Navy sailor and she a college student, during World War II. We found a very old grove of trees where they might have spread out a blanket and had a picnic, and maybe shared a kiss or two - and there we mingled their ashes together and scattered them beneath a big, shady tree.
Then once at home, having to deal with financial issues, I had to fill out some paperwork and include BOTH death certificates. There they lay on my dining room table, side by side, those stark green certificates, the proof that they are really gone from us. One for my mother and one for my father. This time it really hit hard and lots of tears escaped from deep inside. It doesn't matter how old you are when your parents die, does it? It still hurts just as much. But their love story is such a testimony, such a legacy for our children and grandchildren that the sweet savor of it overwhelms the sadness.
I sent letters out to all the old friends still in Mom's address book to notify them of their passing. The phone calls I've received this week have been another precious blessing. The girls who were the first best friends of my very young life in the town of Ferguson, Missouri called and wrote me. Suddenly I was catapulted back into the 1950s and connected once again to families that formed my beginning, and it was so astonishing to discover how much they remembered and how much they cared!
Two days before Dad died he asked me, "Do you remember the movie The Notebook?" I gave him a wry smile and said, "Yes, Dad, I know you are living it aren't you?" He nodded. And then somehow he re-wrote the script a little, but managed to achieve the same, great dramatic ending to a lifelong love story! Okay, I know it is only God who gives and takes life - and I'm so grateful to HIM for granting my parents' greatest wish - but it sure seemed like Daddy had it somehow planned out; because many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.
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Kelly Ferrari Mills