photo by Maarten van den Heuvel
Aunt Evelyn’s ashes had been in our china cupboard for a couple years, waiting for their trip to San Francisco. She wanted to be scattered under the Golden Gate Bridge, where she had scattered her husband’s ashes.
Now, it’s illegal to just chuck things off bridges and generally illegal to chuck things – especially human cremains – off of boats without special permission. The boats that give special permission cost $800 an hour, and while Aunt Evelyn was never a practical person, I certainly am one, and so I and my accomplices set off to honor her wishes.
Human cremains are more copious and heavy than one might imagine, and so three of us divided the ashes into plastic baggies, which we put in our pockets and backpacks. Walking the bridge, we surreptitiously scooped tiny handfuls to sprinkle through the holes in the sidewalk. (do NOT tell anyone)
Too many ashes to complete from the bridge, lest we get caught and locked up in Alcatraz, we found a beach upstream to scatter the leftovers.
I began by ceremoniously plopping some ashes too far away from the waves. Aunt Evelyn’s grey ash did NOT blend in with the tan San Francisco sand, but shimmered in the sun, announcing my ineptitude. My second toss made it closer and waves washed her to sea – the sun catching specks of glitter in the ash and lending some beauty to the ceremony. What is that glitter? Mica? Dental fillings?
That night we slept at the Airport Travel Lodge (NOT San Francisco’s finest) because we were catching an early morning flight to Oahu. While arranging our backpacks for the next day we discovered one more baggie of Aunt Evelyn. What to do?!?!?! TSA would not allow this powdery substance without the original documentation and box, which we no longer had. It was a hard call, but Poor Aunt Evelyn now resides in the Travel Lodge planters, along with greenery, flowers and cigarette butts. She did smoke!
I was sorry not to bring part of her to Hawaii. In our vacation condo, YouTube provided island music. I’d like to say that I googled Israel Kamakawiwoole, but you can see why it’s easier to type in “fat Hawaiian singer”. He weighed over 700 pounds, so his stature was distinctive. Aunt Evelyn liked the expression Rainbow Bridge, and our destination of Waianae, Oahu felt like a link to her. In addition to Hawaiian rainbows, this tiny place was Israel’s hometown, and housed a proud statue in his honor.
Here is his famous song, as well as a video of the voyage where nothing at all was bungled. I hope Aunt Evelyn is going along for the ride. Click the link below and watch to the very end if you have time. Aloha!