“Making Spirits Rise”

Today I picked up my dad’s ashes—or “cremains” as they’re known to the bereavement industry—from the funeral home here on the Vineyard. The biodegradable cotton urn was packed in a small burgundy tote bag, suitable for small grocery runs, I expect.

I first placed the ashes on the floor behind the passenger seat, but as I began to drive with my “dad” in the back, I suddenly felt like a chauffeur. Too impersonal. Too formal for the humble man. I stopped the car (a red, 1999 Izuzu with”CLIFRD” plates and a tiny stuffed Clifford hanging from the rearview mirror) and swung the bag around to rest on the passenger seat beside me.

Patting the sack I proclaimed “let’s go, daddy-O,” and drove off, employing the term of endearment I used most frequently in these last few months with my dad.

I put dad’s ashes under the tree until his interment ceremony, a few days after Christmas.

Until then I make my daily trips to the Edgartown post office, bringing home stacks of cards. If they are addressed to my mother, they are condolences; if they have my dad’s name, they are Christmas cards; if addressed to the “Bridwell Family” there’s about a 70% chance it’s a condolence card.

Even without his ashes here, there would be no doubting his presence in the house. Our lovely Christmas spirit.


By timbridwell

Author of the novel SOPHRONIA L. (2014, Folded Word Press), Tim Bridwell is a graduate of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and the BFA Practicum program in film at Emerson College.

He wrote and directed the feature film Rendezvous in Samarkand and short HAZE, both shot in Morocco. The screenplay of Sophronia L. won the “Award for Excellence in Screenwriting” from Cinema City and the “Golden Lion Award” at the George Lindsey/UNA Film Festival.

A trumpeter, Tim was a founding member of US ska legends The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. He is a full member of the International House of Japan, in Tokyo. Born in New York City and raised on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, he has lived in Paris for the last two decades.