New Brighton, early January, 2010.
A cardboard box, four inches by six.
Inside – a jar, barely any more ornate than a coffee jar, really. Might as well have said ‘Kenco’ on the side.
And inside the jar: a woman. A person. Someone’s mother, sister, daughter, grand-daughter and grandmother.
One who lived a highly individual life. Chronic alcoholic by the age of thirty, completely teetotal for the following forty.
And this is where she wanted it. Here, on the sands of New Brighton, close to Perch Rock Fort, and a short walk from Vale Park, but still within view of “The Three Graces”, her most favourite view of them all.
Its bitterly cold – fucking freezing, in fact. Not the kind of day to hang around on a windswept Merseyside sea-front – even in order to scatter a dead woman’s ashes.
So we got the job done, quickly, clinically. It was almost perfunctory – but not quite.
“Is that IT then?” asks my son-in-law.
“Yes………………………… that’s it” I reply.
No fanfare of trumpets, no ceremony, no rolling of film credits, no entrance of the fucking gladiators………….all that was done at the service two days previously.
Two days ago, respects were paid, and people were coached-in from far and wide.
“Gasoline Alley” was played at the entrance and “In my Life” was played at the end.
Pan-scouse was served at the wake.
A life. Seventy years – forty of them helping the recovering alcoholics of Merseyside.
And now she’s fucking sawdust, scattered on the vicious January Wirral-estuary wind, and washed-along with the tides.
She was convinced that God would save her – convinced that pancreatic cancer was (for her) no more than a minor, temporary inconvenience, like toothache. All it required was a decent clinician. And (perhaps) a little bit of divine intervention.
The logic went something like this: because she had saved so many, and was about to save many more, God would save her.
God didn’t save her. Not this time, at any rate.
There’s not that much more to say, really – she’s gone. She went at around 9 p.m. on 4th January 2010 in Sheffield, far-away from her beloved Liverpool.
But at least we took her back there.
Jody Redmires, 2016