Things I discovered when picking up my father’s ashes from the crematorium:
1. At Fawkner, you pick them up from the office, not the crematorium itself. If you catch the train there, the office is in a non-intuitive location, back towards Sydney Road.
2. Make sure you have photo ID. I guess they don’t want just anybody making off with ashes.
4. The ashes are inside a plain grey plastic container, not an urn. I guess everyone’s tastes in urns is different. The container is quite well secured; I haven’t figured out how to open it yet (have no wish to, just in case anything spills out accidentally or I can’t figure out how to seal it again).
5. The container is inside a cardboard box.
6. The cardboard box, in turn, is inside a tasteful “Fawkner Memorial Park” shopping bag. Unless anybody looked closely and read the name on the bag or the sticker on the top of the box, they’d probably never guess what you had in that bag.
7. Fawkner included a list of options when they sent the letter to let me know they could be collected. It’s notable that some of the memorial options include 25 year tenure, and some (more expensive) are perpetual. From the looks of it, you can upgrade, too. We haven’t actually sorted out what will happen to the ashes yet — we’re looking at options in Queensland, where Dad grew up.
More for my own records than anything else, here are the notices that were placed in the newspapers:
This one was from the family, in the Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Courier Mail (reflecting that over his life, he’d lived in all three cities):
Formerly of Brisbane,
Sydney, London. Scourge of the 1950s establishment. Born 1931 Thursday Island passed away 16 August in Melbourne. Loved father of Daniel and Susannah; dear grandfather of Isaac, Jeremy, Leo, Isolda.
One of his good friends assumed the scourge reference was something Dad specified himself, but in fact we put it in on a whim, based on what we knew of his battles in the 50s. I’m glad we did.
These are the other notices that appeared in The Age:
Greatly valued old friend of Louis Green (dec).
Fondly remembered by Louise.
Thank you John for your friendship all these years, sometimes as a crotchety mentor, always as a fellow traveller searching to understand life. You always wanted to believe that there was somewhere else with the final answers; I think you might just be there now, secure in the love you always had for your children and grandchildren.
Dr Louis Green passed away in 2008.
Oh, and here’s a link to The Chinese Diaspora in Torres Strait, which on page 65 notes that my grandfather Chong Quin Lem was recorded as being a storekeeper on Thursday Island in 1911. How’s that for a bit of family history?