Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Vault That Made Me Be

My father has been dead almost eight years, and in that time he has been in a box.

Ordinarily, this would be appropriate; except that we cremated his body. And it is a small portion of his cremains I am talking about. My part of dad's ashes. And the box they are in is a jewelry box.

In a baggie.

Ziploc - though I'm not sure it isn't an off brand bag. I don't think it's even got the yellow-and-blue-make-green closing seam. It definitely doesn't have one of those newfangled hard plastic zippy-closey-handle things they do now.

So off and on, over the years, I have looked in different places to find a good place to put my piece...s, of my father.

I never liked the idea of a glass bottle. He didn't want his body viewed - though a few did go to say goodbye to him. After they had removed his eyes. His bandaged face was the last some saw of dad.

The last I saw of him was his still-warm hand, his bright wedding band, in his hospital bed. The way his hand infinitessimally contracted on mine.


I have looked at soapstone keepsake boxes ... carved wooden ones ... many kinds. I've talked with my brother about his carving one. I've had one friend, TT, who warmed to the idea of helping me find something. T is so lovely.

Today was simply a glorious day. This is the season my father loved best - classes underway, crisp days coming to cleanse the heat and sweat of summer - the time of year, through history, so many of us who live with seasons have chosen for reflection and renewal. Mom happened to call me, and I was excited when she wanted to go to Carytown. And in Carytown is Ten Thousand Villages. Exactly the sort of place one might find a small, lovely place ... to put one's father's ashes.


When I was little (... and isn't that a funny phrase, out of a middle-aged woman? I realize, those words are ones you usually hear from people under the age of ten ...), my dad used to tell us the story of how mama made him marry her.

Mama worked at a bank.

She kept a dragon in the vault.


The box is small and clay. The dragon is wonderful. It happens, too, that of course dragons are magic, as was my father. That dragons are often joyous, and sometimes even amusing. Sometimes quite dear.

And dragons are auspicious. They are good - and *great* - symbols.

My dad will rest guarded by a dragon. Seems right.

And now I want to dig out the book my brother gave me once. "An Instinct for Dragons."

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