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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 April 2007, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
'Who said scattering ashes was easy?'
Ashes of Beryl MacNulty
Beryl MacNulty's ashes were scattered near her childhood home
The scattering of ashes is a deeply personal act but even in moments of grief there can be laughter, as Gillian Cox reveals in our Reader's Column.

My brothers Derek and David, and I scattered Mum's ashes on a remote beach at Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire, as my mother had lived in a house on the point as a child.

After the funeral, my brothers and I went through Mum's things and made the surprising discovery that she had bought the burial plot next to Dad.

He had died in 1964 and although we knew where the cemetery was we had no idea where amongst all these graves he was buried or even if the plot was still there.

I didn't like the thought of Mum going in the boot so we sat her on the back seat
Gillian Cox

David felt that if she had wanted to be buried next to Dad she had had 40 years to pass this message on. But by then it was too late to bury her. She'd been cremated the week before.

It was then that David suggested the road trip to Gibraltar Point. We could all go together as a family, it would be like taking Mum home, and I knew in my heart that that's what Mum would have loved - all of us, the whole family being together - but it was two years before we were ready to make that journey.

When I moved house, I realised that Mum's ashes were still under the bed. David was still very keen for us all to go to Skegness so in May we set off from Lichfield in a convoy of four cars.

Bat and ball

I didn't like the thought of Mum going in the boot so we sat her on the back seat, but that didn't look right either, so we clipped the seat belt around her and set off. It felt like we were going on holiday.

Gillian Cox with mum Beryl MacNulty
Gillian believes her mum Beryl would like her resting place
I had never visited Skegness, Gibraltar Point or any part of the Lincolnshire coast until after Mum died. She left the area in 1939 when she joined the WAAF but I grew up hearing about the house on the beach, surrounded by sea on three sides and her mother heaving sandbags to the doors during the spring tide.

She and her brother Roy swam in the sea amongst seals and it all seemed such a magical "Famous Five" kind of a childhood. I couldn't wait to get there.

Where mum's house was on Gibraltar Point is now about a mile-and-half inland so we hiked across the dunes - David marching on ahead leading the way with the rest of us tagging along behind, carrying kites, balls, blankets and me carrying Mum in the red plastic sweetie container the crematorium had given us.

Gibraltar Point
Mum's view: Gibraltar Point
By the time we reached the beach she was getting quite heavy. I plonked her down amongst the shoes and socks that had been discarded in the rush to paddle in the sea. I was so glad that the kids came. They lightened our spirits and organised games. It was a real happy family time and the weather was gorgeous.

We spent the afternoon playing on the beach, paddling, sunbathing collecting shells, it was just the start of the good weather and we all had a glorious time. But none of us were really wanting to do what we came for.

Eventually David found a lovely spot, climbed a small dune, said a few funny words that made us smile and brought a lump to my throat and then we both scattered the ashes into the bracing wind that blows across the Lincolnshire coast - covering the family in tiny particles of Granny!

The family at Gibraltar Point
The family enjoyed the day out

I particularly didn't like to spit the grit out of my mouth as it was my Mum, so discreetly picked the bits from my teeth and wiped them down my tee-shirt. Sorry, Mum.

We all laughed and said we weren't really crying, it was bits of Granny in our eye.

When I looked around at all of us, here together, I knew we had come to the right place at the right time. Mum would have loved it. I loved it.

I have a photograph of the dune, on a remote sandy beach, facing the roaring sea with a brilliant blue sky above it - Mum's view. It looks like paradise to me and it always makes me smile.

I can't remember her funeral much but I'll never forget the ashes!





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