Scattering my mother's ashes
Nothing had been discussed, nothing planned for this final moment. My father suggested a favourite place of theirs: Easby, a ruined abbey against which a small church nestles.
I'd visited the abbey with them and with my family a number of times, most recently in the preceding summer. I have a picture from that visit: my parents in front of the little church, my mother leaning on her walking stick, standing proudly looking at the camera, my father behind her sitting on the wall, holding his own stick, looking away and smiling gently.
The day after my mother's funeral service, I walked to the funeral directors at the top of the road to collect her ashes. I carried her back like a baby in the crook of my arm.
My father drove us to the abbey and then a little further to a place where an old railway bridge crosses the river. Here was the place where they'd rested and watched the water rushing by with their beloved dog, Charlie.
I walked down the slope, broke the seal of the container and scattered my mother's ashes. Then I returned to the car, holding the now empty container. I took my leave of my father and walked back alone.