Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dad's Last Flight: Almost

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and for me the day will be bittersweet. I’m not much of a sports fan but four years ago Mrs. Chatterbox and I had a little Super Bowl party. We like to scarf down a few munchies, watch the commercials and wonder what the game is all about. My parents had recently moved to the area and we included them.

We had the best time ever. I can’t remember Dad enjoying himself so much. The game was exciting, and after driving home Dad called to tell me what a great time he’d had. I never spoke with him again. The next morning Mom found him in his favorite chair. Dad had died from a heart attack. My parents had been married for fifty-nine years.

In the days to come my mother’s brain was understandably short-circuited by grief. Looking back on this painful experience I can now find a trace of humor in it. After dad was cremated Mom said to me, “I’ve decided what to do with your father’s ashes.”

I was surprised. I’d thought Dad would end up in the family cemetery where his parents and sister (and Mom’s family) were buried.

“No, I’ve thought of something special to honor your father.”

“Really, what do you have in mind?” I asked.

“I’m going to have your father’s ashes thrown out of an airplane. Over the ocean.”

I thought about it for a moment, trying to hold my tongue, but in the end my proclivity to render opinions won out. Dad had never let me down when he was alive and I felt that he needed me now. “Mom, that’s a thoughtful idea, but I don’t think Dad would have wanted it.”

“Why not?” she asked, sharply.

I gave her two reasons. “First, while it’s true that Dad was a pilot and loved to fly, he

spent his life trying not to plummet from the sky. It seems cruel to dump his ashes out of

a plane. And another thing…”

“Go on,” Mom said.

“Dad wasn’t a confident swimmer and was terrified of the ocean. To scatter his ashes over a place that terrified him just doesn’t seem right.”

In the end Dad was interred in the family cemetery where he’d always assumed he’d be laid to rest. So now for the public service announcement. If you’re watching the game today with your dad, stop for a moment to appreciate him. We never know how much time we have left together. If you aren’t watching the game with your dad, give him a call and tell him you wish you could be spending the day together.

As for your wife, be sure and tell her what you want done with your ashes or you could end up taking a dive from 10,000 feet into a very large swimming pool.

Enjoy the Super Bowl.

Check out Dad's amazing superpower here.


  1. You make me want to laugh and cry at the same time! Just wish my dad were still here to give him that call -- but then I kind of always his presence somewhere nearby. And he would have loved to be here in the UK watching the Super Bowl with me tonight -- especially as he loved the Giants! I'm a Patriot fan now, but if the Giant's win I'll smile and think of him up there 'happy as Larry'!

  2. My dad died 2 1/2 years ago. His ashes are sitting on a shelf in my mom's house, which always seems creepy to me. He was never a big football fan anyway.

  3. Wow! What an amazing post, Stephen. I will definitely call my dad today - he and my hubs always have a $1 bet on the game. He got me started watching football although I do not root for his team.

  4. But then, how would I know?

    Great story, Stephen.

  5. I'm glad you came to your dads rescue. I sure wish I could call my dad.

    Have a terrific day and enjoy the Super Bowl. :)

  6. A very poignant post, Stephen. Thank you.

    Enjoy the day. I'm not watching the game but want the Giants to win only because I thought they were a Bay Area team. Well, they are or were, but someone told me that's a different sport.


  7. Great story, greate advice. My dad was a BIG football fan, no doubt where I get my love for the game. He passed away 7 years ago, and after I watch an especially exciting game I think to myself, "Dad would have loved this one!"

    I've discussed my final resting place with K and I've requested cremation, with my ashes scattered over a pretty spot, preferably with a view of the mountains.

    Enjoy the game. ;)


  8. Great post! Love that you have that memory of your dad.

  9. Very moving post. What a lovely way to remember your last time with your dad. You were good to be a voice of reason with your mom, too. We have a friend who has both her parents' urns in her house with her. Today for the Superbowl, they are putting sunglasses on each urn, facing them towards the TV, and watching the game with them.

    I like the idea of interring them better.

  10. Poignant post. How lucky to have had a connection with your Dad right up to the last. I lost my Father to Alzheimer's long before he died but at the end my sister and I had to decide where he would want to be. Our first though, to spread his ashes on the ocean he loved, was a non-starter once we realized Mum would have to join him there later. So many seaside summers with her limited but valiant breast stroke and elongated neck to keep her face out of the water. Lipstick red lips tightly closed. She might have married a Merchant Seaman but it would have been cruel to consign her to the deep. They are together in the flower beds surrounding the band stand, in the Beer Garden of The Princess Pavilion. Our Mother played piano there and the likes of Sir Francis Chichester (round the world sailor) have been feted there upon arrival back on dry land.
    My sister and I both choose the windswept headland from which the barren moors and granite crags sweep down to the Atlantic in one side and Mounts Bay on the other. We'll continue the gallops of our banshee childhoods through the heather and fern, under the kestrels watch.

  11. Whew! Glad you saved him in the nick of time.

    My father was buried in a local cemetery. His headstone took a couple of weeks to arrive. My mom called one day and told me she was so relieved that the cemetery people called her and said it had been installed that day. We both agreed that we finally had closure.

    That night, my new house of six months was filled with pops and cracks and all sorts of unrestful sounds. Every minute or two, a new snap, crackle, or pop sounded. I could not believe the house was settling all at once. The next day, my mom went to the cemetery and saw that Dad's headstone had been installed on the wrong grave. She had the groundsmen change it out. Voila! My house noises were gone that evening. Something to think about...

  12. Hope you enjoyed the game, and yes, never miss the chance to tell your parents you love them.

  13. I have already informed MY WIFE that I want my ashes scattered at first base on Smith Field (where I've played more softball than anywhere else.) Knowing some of my teammates, as soon as she scatters them, some of them will be down on their hands and knees trying to snort me.

  14. My wife is free to do with me as she wishes. When I'm gone it's her turn to have fun (not that she doesn't now)

  15. Sad but fun. Good post

  16. I adore my folks and don't miss a chance to tell them so. Great post.

  17. Aww bittersweet, indeed. Good reminder for those whose parents are still with us. Both of mine are long gone. I'm sorry your Dad is no longer with you.

  18. A touching post, Mr. C. I'm glad for you that you had that final wonderful day with your dad. And a good reminder to others to appreciate their parents while they still have them.