Ross Vassilev

My Father’s Ashes

by Ross Vassilev

The funeral home had a red carpet.

There was a wake in the main hall

for someone else’s loved one.

The funeral home director

gave me a red tote bag.

Inside was a small cardboard box.

Inside of the box was a plastic bag

with my father’s ashes.

The bag was heavy.

I said to my father

You’re so heavy, Tatko

but I didn’t mind.

My father carried me

when I was a child.

Now I was carrying his ashes.

I drove to my dad’s favorite park.

I parked the car and got out

carrying my father’s ashes

and a shovel I had just bought.

I dug a small hole

by the water’s edge

as best I could.

Digging the hole

in the tough, leathery March mud

was surreal.

I took out the plastic bag.

My father’s ashes were

small triangles of bone

with a few bigger pieces

the size of quarters.

I knew I should take them

out of the plastic bag

but I just couldn’t.

I put the bag in the hole in the mud

and covered it up.

I said

Goodbye for now, Tatko.

***

It rained

the next few weeks.

I went back to the spot.

The rain had opened a hole

in the plastic bag.

Water had got inside.

My father’s ashes now looked

like cigarette ash.

I picked up the bag.

The ashes were still just as heavy.

I poured them out

onto the earth.

I don’t remember

what I did with the bag.

I showed him the new cheap handgun

I had just bought.

Then I said

Let’s go to that other park you liked,

Tatko.

***

Snow has fallen now

where I left my father’s ashes.

I visit the spot

every now and then.

I don’t know why

since my father’s spirit

is not there.

My father’s spirit

is where-ever the angels

that he saw

took him that sad, cold day

in early March.

My father always told me

to sell his body

to a medical school

when he died.

It would’ve killed him

knowing that I spent

$600 on his cremation.

My father was sentimental

sometimes

but not when it came

to money.

There’s a lot of snow

everywhere now

and I have the rest of my life now

to remember the good times

and the bad—

to regret all the evil things he did—

everything I did—

to wish I could go back

and fix the past.

Now I’m left here

typing at my dad’s computer

thinking of snow

and remembering

a white hospital room—

cold of spirit—

where my father

always complained

that it was too damn hot

and all I can say is

I’m sorry, Tatko.

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