Patrick McNally

Ashes to Ashes

Part 1

For many, the idea of returning our bodies to the earth is a sacred and appealing concept. Those of us with a special bond to a particular patch of earth have found ways of making this return even more meaningful. I'll never forget working with a family whose mother was from Lithuania. She raised two boys during WWII, and they travelled as refugees throughout Europe during the war. At one point, they were in Germany, and one of the boys was close to death.


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In the gray depressing starkness of wartime Germany, the boy's one wish was to have or even see an orange again. The mother was walking to see her young son, for what she thought might be the last time, and a truck full of GI's drove by. One of the soldiers had a bag of oranges and for whatever reason, was compelled to throw one out to her. The boy survived and the family emigrated to the US. At the Hospice Center in Wisconsin where she died, the mother's things were all set out for her funeral and burial. Along with her clothing was a jar of earth. It was labeled in an old fashioned shaky hand that this was earth from the graveyard where her father and all of her brothers were buried, and it was to be buried with her.
-from the Daily Undertaker for part 2, visit