Featured Stories


Goodbyes are always difficult for families

Isabel Torrey shares a personal story of her granddaughter's final resting place


LARRY TORREY - Isabel Torrey (right) stands with some of her family members in a Portland cemetery where her granddaughter's cremains were recently placed.With Memorial Day coming up, I am reminded of our family giving my granddaughter her final goodbye recently.

Her resting site is a niche in a Portland cemetery's marble wall that overlooks a grassy slope on the city’s south skirts; the surrounding valley reminds me of a tablecloth edged with a mottled-green, crocheted fringe of trees. Muted sounds while Mount Hood, wearing her distinctive white veil, silently but solemnly watched in the distance.

But seven of us (joined by a bird chorus, seemingly there to supply liturgical support) were above all that while we, misty-eyed, reverently placed a gold, square box containing Karen’s cremains into a niche in a marble wall.

Following a time of contemplative silence, we climbed into our respective cars to wind the writhing exit road down the mountain. Nearby a groundskeeper - wearing earbuds (probably beaming raucous music) - threaded a blatting, green behemoth John Deere tractor among the stones, manicuring the area.

As we drove away, an odd image surfaced when I unexpectedly recalled the dejected look a long-ago, beloved terrier used to give us when she realized she couldn’t come along.

A mental alarm shouted: We can’t go off and leave Karen behind… all alone! But immediately I reminded myself, That’s a silly thought - she’s gone.

Than another odd mental image, again from prior years when my husband and I had made a month-long cruise of South Pacific islands. While touring several villages, I noticed colored glass bottles imbedded, upside-down, around mounds of soil in front yards of most homes.

“What are those?” I’d asked our native guide.

“They’re family graves.”

Ewww, gross, I told myself.

Doubtless the guide sensed my negativity, because he quickly added, “We like having our loved ones close by - even if they’re gone. I’m comforted in knowing that’s where I’ll be someday too.”

As we continued driving home from Karen’s rites, I concluded: That concept makes sense. Those islanders aren’t the uneducated people I once considered them.

I was thinking of that island idea with new understanding when a raucous blat reminded us the light had turned green. Startled out of memory lane, my first reaction was annoyance: Hey, Big Bully! Can’t you give us a little slack before you park on your horn?

But then I realized the driver behind us had no idea we’d just buried my beloved 30-year-old granddaughter. It took effort to turn, nod and give an apologetic wave.

We quickly drove on - back into the stark reality of our loved one’s absence.

May I suggest during this Memorial Day time that you please join me in determining not to visibly display exasperation at a dawdling vehicle ahead? That driver might also be fighting thoughts of having just left a loved one behind.

©2016 Isabel Torrey, who is a King City resident.