Tuesday, March 19

Rest in peace

I flew back to New Zealand on March 16 to join the family as we laid my father's ashes to rest.  The family held a simple, low-key ceremony the following afternoon at Pyes Pa Memorial Park. It's a peaceful location on the outskirts of Tauranga.  The park waschosen as Dad's final resting place because his parents' ashes are also buried here.

The local council established the park in 1967.  As the years have passed, its vision of a tranquil, landscaped park has quietly unfolded.  Today the grounds are filled with maturing trees and gardens, offering a peaceful park to remember those who have passed.

New Zealand is currently in the grip of its driest Summer in more than fifty years.  However, on the day we chose to gather, the heavens opened up and more than 8.4mm of rain fell.  It was somehow fitting that Dad's final act should result in another life-long memory. 

The family stopped first for lunch in Tauranga, hoping for a break in the weather.  This wasn't to be.  We ultimately gathered around Dad's plot under a raft of umbrellas.  Mum had chosen the perfect spot for his plot under the limbs of a young Magnolia tree.  In the years ahead, the tree will provide an increasingly spectacular backdrop and a handy landmark for first-time visitors.

My brother Matt read the poem "One at Rest" that my Auntie Pan had shared at Dad's funeral.  Then, one by one, family members took turns to cover the pale blue biodegradable urn containing Dad's ashes with a spadeful of soil. Our ceremony finished with each of us inscribing a colouful helium balloon with a farewell message and releasing them into the sodden sky.  As each balloon rose into the sky we shared a champange toast.  Farewell Dad.  May you live in our hearts forever.

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