Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From the Dust: Ashes and Fathers

Yesterday, I heard a voice “speaking from the dust.” Actually it was my own voice from years gone by. The dust was on an old journal that I’d not looked at it in some time. As I browsed through the pages, I was amazed at how much I’d forgotten.

My journal entries today are more cryptic, less detailed. So, this means that much more is going unsaid now.

Nine years ago this week (July 9, 2001)—according to said journal— The Knight went to California to collect his father’s ashes so that he could bury them in Wyoming. This little saga was reminiscent (in my mind) of the movie “Smoke Signals,” in which Victor, with his cousin Thomas, travels to Arizona from Idaho to collect his father’s remains. In the final scene of the movie, Victor throws his father’s ashes into the river from a bridge. The best part of the movie is that scene. Victor’s actions are accompanied by the sounds of Indian drums and sorrow-singing and the voice of Thomas in a soliloquy on “Fathers.”

I told The Knight that when he obtained them, that he should throw his own father’s ashes from a bridge into a river, and have Andy do the drums and sorrow-singing. The Knight thought that I was being cruel and disrespectful of the dead. I really wasn’t. I thought it would be poetic and memorable. The grandchildren and great grandchildren could also be there on the bridge to witness the ceremony.

Just picture it: a summer morning, the sun glinting through the trees and sparkling on the water, the sounds of birdsong and rushing water, the silent gathering of family on the foot bridge over the Provo River, Andy providing the heart-beat drum like the sound of many hearts beating and the voice singing of ancient sorrows, and then the soliloquy of Thomas:

How do we forgive our fathers?
Maybe in a dream?
Do we forgive our fathers for leavin’ us too often—
Or forever—when we were little?
Maybe for scarin’ us with unexpected rage—
Or makin’ us nervous because
There never seemed to be any rage there at all?
Do we forgive our fathers for marryin’—
Or not marryin’—our mothers?
For divorcing—or not divorcing—our mothers?
And shall we forgive them for pushin’—
Or leanin’?
For shuttin’ doors?—
Or speakin’ through walls?—
Or never speakin’?—
Or never being silent?

Do we forgive our fathers in our age—
Or in theirs?—
Or in their deaths, sayin’ it to them—
Or not sayin’ it?
If we forgive our fathers—
What is left?

As the ashes float out from the bridge onto the waters and then out of sight around a bend in the river, the gathering on the bridge bids him farewell until they meet again.

Poetic.

Memorable.

Never happened.

The reality was stark in comparison.

Although, I suppose The Knight and his two sons would tell you it was poetic and memorable in its own way—The Knight did the sorrow-singing (I am told), and a copy of the song was buried with the ashes.

In a cold, wind-swept valley of the Tetons, it was a small, lonely gathering in a neglected, mostly forgotten cemetery as the whispering of the wind in the dry grasses sighed farewell.



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3 comments:

shydandelion said...

What a heavy thought for a bright sunny day!

Emily was telling me today that you found your old journals and had considered disposing of them. I don't know how I would approach that kind of thing, either. A lot of my journals when I was younger were pretty sad, so tossing them wasn't much of a problem. I guess it's a matter of whether or not you think they have value for your children. You could always type up the ones you think are pertinent, and give em to your kids. :)

Chris said...

Dara, how could you?!?!? Throw away your journals? Oh, the humanity!

When I have gone through my journals, yes, there have been some pretty sad and pathetic entries; however, there have also been some gems.

I have also heard the same thing with pioneer journals. Today, we walked and walked and walked. Over and over. But then one day, a gem shines. The next day, more walking.

I don't think I could ever throw away a journal, no matter how boring it might be. While it may mean nothing to you, maybe your future kin will be able to read between the lines. And, if not, they will at least have your hand-writing to look at.

Rebecca said...

i haven't thrown any of my journals away. Some of the entries bring stirring memories (some of which I wish I could forget) - but they are my experiences - things that made who I am - I think if Enos disposed of his entry because it stirred memories we may not understand the amazing power of the atonement or come to the knowledge that we are not alone in our sorrows or in our great joys. We have no idea what our thoughts and words will be to another when they come across the hand written journal entries of our past