The Best Laid Plans

Years ago, when my husband and I were young and planning our lives, we also made plans for after death. We agreed on cremation. My husband said he wanted his ashes scattered over a lake.

“Okay,” I said. “I want mine scattered in a garden.”

“Okay,” he answered. “But flowers, not vegetables.”

We’re not morbid, not really. Just practical.

I’m not sure whether a love of fishing prompted his love of water or his love of water spilled over into fishing. But either way, his choice is fitting.

My choice of a garden is less obvious. My husband is the gardener in the family. Back when we had a big garden I was the one who processed all the produce. I’ve been known to plant flowers and tomato plants, but they’d all wither if he wasn’t around to water them.

I think I like the garden as a metaphor for life. We all start in a lifeless winter, begin in the spring of our lives, flourish in the summer, and harvest our hard work in the fall. I like to think that after I’m gone I could still be encouraging life.

But that’s true of all the natural world. In more recent years, I’ve been thinking that nourishing the soil in a forest somewhere sounds peaceful. If you’ve ever seen a fallen tree, you know how life appears in unlikely places.

Then I did a simple Google search and found this. Turns out ashes are so highly concentrated in soil nutrients that they are poisonous to plants. Businesses have been created just to solve this problem.

So, either someone will have to do some work with my ashes to get them ready or I need a new plan. In the end, it will likely be my daughters’ decision what to do. Here is what I hope they’ll do. I only wish I could be with them.

Choose a windy day and stand at any spot out in the country. Then (this part is important) turn your back to the wind. Open the box and toss the ashes into the air.

For the first time in my well-planned life, let the wind take me where it may.


(I’m so excited that this post was featured on Discover’s best of WordPress at