The time came this weekend to divide up my parents’ cremains among the four children. After my dad died in 2018, I put his ashes in a campaign chest until we could decide what to do with them. Then my mother died unexpectedly in May, and I had two sizable boxes of ash to watch over.
The process is essentially like dispensing flour or (I suspect) selling narcotics. You scoop some out from the plastic bag and weigh it so we all get equal parts mom and dad. I wasn’t squeamish or emotional about the event. For me, at least, I carry my parents in my heart and genetic code. But I wanted some way to humanize this odd, plastic-bag process.
So I walked down to my workshop and quickly found my favorite wooden spoon, which was carved by Peter Follansbee.
My dad loved Peter’s work, and my mom always loved every wooden spoon that came into her kitchen. So it somehow seemed right.
The spoon is short, so it was easy to control its motion without shaking off the contents. The narrow neck up by the bowl was perfect for gripping it and keeping everything steady. It was like Peter had carved this spoon for this very operation.
I sealed up the eight bags and took the spoon back to the shop to be cleaned.
It still has a lot of life left in it. And some more joyful tasks ahead.
— Christopher Schwarz