(Originally posted 8th October 2019)
I woke abruptly on Sunday at 6.45am.
Shit! Still nearly two hours until my alarm goes off and here I am, wide awake. I contemplated getting up early and making a start on the day, but alas, it was too early. I eventually rose at 7.30am, having surrendered to my insomniac tendencies.
I tried my white Harley Quinn t-shirt on with jeans and my leather jacket. I stood in front of the mirror and resigned myself to reality, it just didn’t look right. Dad wouldn’t want me to be uncomfortable, but it was the last gift he bought me and I’d vowed to wear it when we released him. Instead, I opted for my black and sparkly rockabilly vest top with neutral and sparkly eyeshadow, black eyeliner and my dyed red hair in pigtails. It was a look he knew me for and it was much more.. me.
The drive to Newquay was relatively uneventful. I felt apprehensive, of course I did, this was my first time with human ashes and they belonged to a man who I’d loved and cherished so much. I’d also not set foot on a boat in many, many years and I’d lost my first love on a fishing vessel off of Battery Point near Bristol, so I didn’t have the best relationship with fishing boats to start with, either.
As we arrived in the harbour, the sun shone through the occasional grey cloud in the sky. The waves lapped gently in the harbour and the boats bobbled on the tide. A tall, dark-haired man in bright yellow waders flagged us down and my Mum returned his wave. I presumed he was our skipper, Colin.
“It’s not good out there today” he said gruffly.
Through the sea walls of the harbour, I could see the waves crashing over each other, smashing relentlessly over the rocks as they arrived onto the shore. In the harbour, the waves were soft and gentle, but out on the sea was an entirely different story.
Because my mother had warned him about her severe sea sickness, Colin refused to take us out. It needed to be a nice occasion, with nice weather and seas, not the awful, windy weather that was. Accepting his decision, my brother and mother decided upon a few hours of fishing while Wolfie and I wandered the town above.
Back at the chalet, we all had to face the revelation that we might not be able to give my dearly beloved Dad the at sea send-off that we’d hoped for. Faced with that reality, we decided to sit down and talk about other ideas. If not from a mackerel fishing boat from his beloved harbour, then what?
At first, my mother and brother joked about “throwing him off” of the harbour wall. As much as Mum joked about it when Dad was alive, I baulked at the idea after his passing. An amazing man like my Dad deserved so much more than an undignified send-off.
One of my biggest fears with scattering Dad’s ashes has been wind. From what I’ve read, ashes stick to skin, and I wasn’t sure if my family (or myself) would find such a scenario incredibly funny or deeply disturbing. My Dad wanted to be released at sea, and that meant all of him, at the same time, not washing some of him down the plug hole.
Sat on the pebbles at Trevaunance Cove today, a whimsical thought struck me.
“Dad liked fishing, What about we tie a line around the urn with some weights around it to help it sink, then lower it from a fishing rod into the sea?” I offered with a chuckle, it was an almost outlandish idea that I expected to be dismissed immediately, but it was a humorous idea that was bound to crack a smile.
“Hey, that’s a bloody good idea” my Mum said.
Suddenly, my silly idea became the ultimate send-off. No wind, no sea sickness and no waiting on others to fulfill our plan. Dad would be carefully lowered from his own fishing rod, from his favourite fishing spot, into the ocean, with a red rose tribute as he sailed off on the waves.
The tears choked me as I looked out across the horizon. What was once a silly idea from his cherished ‘Booboos’ would now be the chosen way to fulfill his dying wish.
A final gift from me, and our final farewell to him.
This post relates to cremation laws in the UK only which require that ashes be released in accordance with the Environmental Agency regulations and with regard for other people. Please check legal requirements for your country before releasing ashes at sea.