The July 2021 issue of Funny Times contains this item in its “News of the Weird” section: John Hinkle bowled a perfect 300 game on April 12 using a ball containing his father’s ashes. Because he bowls two-handed, he is allowed only 2 holes in his ball, so he filled the thumb hole with some of his father’s cremated remains. This way of honoring his father may be unusual, but it did apparently fill a hole in John’s life.
John is not alone in seeking new, nontraditional ways of memorializing a cremated loved one. These days, in fact, there are many alt-urn-atives.
One possibility is having a portrait made with paint that has been mixed with cremains. The portrait can not only look like you but actually be you.
A similar but more rad technique is mixing sterilized ashes with tattoo ink. With a cremains tattoo, you won’t just carry your loved one in your heart; you’ll carry him or her on whatever body part you want!
If you’d like to go out with a bang, not a whimper, you could direct that your ashes become part of fireworks that are then shot into the air for a spectacular finish, like Hunter S. Thompson did. Heaven Above Fireworks or Heavenly Stars Fireworks are two companies that can accommodate you. If you want bang more than sparkle, you might try a company called Holy Smoke that mixes cremains into shotgun shells.
An option of special interest to writers is having the ashes made into pencils. The Carbon Copies company will make cremains into a set of 240 pencils with the dearly departed’s name and dates printed on them. Your loved one could literally be on every page of your new novel—the handwritten draft of it, anyway. Wisely, the pencils avoid troubling symbolism by coming with—no erasers.
The Artful Ashes company offers an extensive line of colorful cremains glassware, either glass orbs or glass heart shapes. One tablespoon of your ashes becomes beautiful, translucent swirls. I like this idea because after I’m dead, I could finally make something of myself—even if it is only a paperweight. And it seems appropriate somehow since my wife has always been able to see right through me.
Another option is to have myself turned into an actual diamond, a service offered by LifeGem or Eterneva, both memorial jewelry companies. A variety of cuts, colors, and styles are available. I love this idea. My wife could wear me on a necklace. People will say to her, “What a lovely diamond!” And Carolyn will say, “Thanks, it’s my husband, Bill.”
“Yes, he was raw and rough at first, but he turned out to be a real gem.”
As a diamond, I could, from Marilyn Monroe’s point of view, continue, even though I’m dead, to be Carolyn’s best friend. I wonder if I put on weight if that would mean more carats for Carolyn.
And finally, I’ve saved the best for last. The British company And Vinyly can turn cremains into a 33 vinyl record with whatever audio you want. And I know just what album I want to be—The Best . . . of the Grateful Dead—Live.
(Bill Spencer is author of Uranus Is Always Funny: Short Essays to Make You Laugh.)