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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Sea-loving man still sailing after death
If travelling to the uttermost ends of the earth was what your loved one always wanted to do, but death ended that mission, how then would you help to fulfill that dream? Set the cremated remains to sail across the seven seas, perhaps? That is exactly what American Beverly Smith, 56, did.
Three weeks after her husband Gordon “Skinny” Smith died, she took a bottle with his ashes to Big Pine Key in Florida, a place where the couple had visited every February since the early ’80s and hurled it out into the sea.
Gordon died of a brain haemorrhage at 57 in March 2012.
“Gordon loved the ocean. I wanted to let him travel a little and let him sail away,” Smith said. Parts of Gordon now live in a lake in Tennessee, Costa Rica and inside the bottle.
The awesome love story or tale of the travelling ashes has been making its rounds heavily on social media, attracting numerous comments from family and friends. Since the original appearance online, within two days it had been reposted over 129,949 times. By the end of July it had been "liked" more than 259,000 times and shared by more than 116,000 people.
It even grabbed the attention of USA Today, which wrote an extensive piece on the heart-warming tale, as well as the Huffington Post, New York Daily News and the UK’s Daily Mail.
It all started on July 21 when Judi Glunz Sidney, co-owner of Glunz Ocean Beach Hotel and Resort in Florida, posted her treasured find on the resort's Facebook page.
A usual clean-up routine along the shoreline of Key Colony beach, turned into a magical moment for Sidney when she stumbled upon a bottle which housed two notes, two US$1 bills and ashes. It was the second time Gordon’s ashes had been found.
One of the notes explained that it was the cremated remains of a woman’s husband of 27 years, named Gordon "Skinny" Smith. It read: "He loved to travel so I've sent him travelling in a bottle with a note and money for someone to call home and tell me where he landed."
The other, written by someone only identified as Ross, said he had found "Skinny" earlier in July at Mile Marker 79 at Islamorada, Florida. "Please if you find him call Gordon's loving wife and please call me and let us know where Gordon ended up put a new note in with him and let him travel on," were his words.
Sidney along with her husband contacted Smith to let her know they had found Gordon’s ashes. They threw a beach party for him and Judi passed around a note she had written for everyone present to sign, then the couple drove to Seven Mile Bridge and threw the bottle into the water, sending him on his way once again.
(USA Today, Daily Mail, Huffington Post)
Saving one's ashes is not unusual. Cremated remains, do not pose a health risk. And many a time, when legally retained by relatives can be dispersed in various ways. They can be entomb at memorial sites or cemeteries or can be scattered in seas or rivers.
Following his death in 1985, legendary pan man Rudolph Charles had some of his ashes scattered over the hills of his home town of Laventille. It was said this was what he always wanted in the event of his death.
Guardian Arts and Entertainment editor Peter Ray Blood, said his father's ashes were scattered in the sea in the vicinity of the Five Islands. This too was requested by the deceased.
The practice is one that's also very common among the Hindu community. Hindus believe that the burning of a dead body signifies the release of the spirit and that the flames represent Brahma, the creator.
In T&T, according to the Cremation Act, one must first obtain a licence to burn a body. Ashes are not permitted to be dispersed into rivers and if scattered in the sea it must be within two to three miles into the water, away from the shoreline. This is because ashes do not sink immediately and can be washed ashore where people can come into contact with it.
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