Ashes, Ashes

The inspiration for Death in the Memorial Garden came from an essay I wrote called, “Ashes, Ashes,” about the many ways we honor and “dispose of” our departed loved ones. In it, I described the grassy courtyard between our downtown Seattle church and its parish hall. The courtyard is called the Memorial Garden, and under it are buried the remains of many former members and their families.
To reserve a spot, you must agree that there will be no urn, and no marker other than your name on a plaque inside the church. You must also not be bothered by the idea that the grass above your resting place will be the scene of Easter Egg hunts, summer concerts, and St. Francis Day animal blessings. The soft green grass will also attract urban campers, as well as flocks of pigeons fed by an eccentric lady from the neighborhood.
After finishing the essay, I wondered, what would stop someone from performing a do-it-yourself burial when no one was watching? What if they didn’t bother to remove the ashes from the urn or other container, but just dug a hole big enough for everything, and carefully replaced the sod on top? And what would happen if this was the same location pre-reserved by someone else, someone whose internment was today?  And what if the pigeon lady and her flock decided to attend the service?
So I wrote a mystery to answer those very questions.

One thought on “Ashes, Ashes

  1. Dear Kathie,

    I bought Death in the Memorial Garden for my Kindle. Just the kind of mystery I like; enjoyed it very much. Seems to me it’s a big thing to move beyond articles to a full length novel. From the biographical information at the end, it looks like you’ve achieved a long-time goal. Congratulations!

    One Sunday last summer, the rector of Christ Church Los Altos announced that our organist had been “called to the Bigs.” He’d been recruited to play for St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. That’s the one that looks like a washing machine agitator, he said, making sure we knew that it’s the Roman Catholic cathedral. His replacement was fourteen at the time and superb.

    So I approached this nice young man Sunday and asked him to show me his organist shoes. He’s shy but was generous with technical info. I told him about the red and pink laces in your novel, but I think he’s too conservative for anything but black.

    All the best,
    Marianne Rice

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