by Paul Beckman
Momma wanted something to remember Dad. ‘I don’t believe in going to cemeteries to talk to the departed,’ she told us. ‘I never did it for my parents or your baby sister or any other relatives and our parents never did it for their kinfolk either. Our dogs were different; we buried them on the property and sometimes your father and I would take a stroll on a nice brisk fall afternoon, right before dinner and visit Otto, Little Dink, Dink, Buster, Fido, Charles and the others. We’d slow down, but not stop, and tell each other a little story about the one we were passing and we were always accompanied by our current hound. He didn’t know what we were up to but liked running in the field and woods. It was strange, we never marked a grave but always knew where and who. Those walks were the only time we held hands since our courting days.’
Dad fell asleep in the barn, sitting on the back seat he pulled out from the Kaiser Frasier he’d had; the one with the bamboo dashboard and the plush seats. Unfortunately he loved to smoke and nap and after the fire department came and put out what was left of the barn we had to wait days for it to cool down before we could poke around the ashes and find Dad and we think we did. There were the car seat springs still sticking up so we scooped all the ashes off them and called them Dad and put him in a wood box he kept his girlie magazines in that we found in the basement. Never told Mom about the magazines—just covered them over with Dad and nailed the top shut and drove the box over to the cemetery where we had a ceremony with his friends and a Baptist minister who agreed to not talk too much about religion.
After the cemetery we went back to Mom’s and sat down to a good pot luck the neighbors provided and Sis and I went into the barn area and kicked ashes around looking for anything at all and found one of Dad’s work boots. It had burn marks but he loved those boots almost as much as his car seat so we took it along with his favorite glass ashtray he got for one of his birthdays and had those both bronzed and gave them to Mom for her remembrance.
Dear Emma, Scoot, James, and Martha,
If you guys want to chip in and be a part of Mom’s remembrance send $14.28 each and we’ll sure let Mom know that you were part of this. I’m enclosing a picture of the bronzed pair. You’ll get a kick out of this—Mom asked us after she opened her remembrance gift what we did with Dad’s girlie magazines that were in the box. She said ‘good’ when we told her we left them in there and put his ashes on top.
Paul Beckman’s story, “Healing Time” was one of the winners in the 2016 The Best Small Fictions and his 100 word story, “Mom’s Goodbye” was chosen as the winner of the 2016 Fiction Southeast Editor’s Prize. His stories are widely published in print and online. His published story website is www.paulbeckmanstories.com and his blog is www.pincusb.com.