We headed south on some Minnesota highway that Bill was tracking on his grumpy GPS, while Barbara and I talked about the fabulous people she was about to meet. Gen's sisters had rounded up the kids and cousins and enjoined one and all to assemble the next day at Blue Earth's Riverside Cemetery to attend an informal burial service for the non-God-fearing Genevieve. A feast of hearty Lutheran church lady post-funeral food would follow at Joyce's farm.
When Becky and I scheduled this event last winter and began to make arrangements for it, my mistaken reading of Google Earth suggested that we reserve rooms at a Holiday Inn Express in Mankato, because it seemed to be only 12 miles or so north of Blue Earth. Forty-five miles is more like it, Joyce declared. Huh. Oh well. A shorter distance to drive back to the airport, then.
Gen fared well in Becky's carry-on luggage. Nobody at TSA questioned or even seemed to care about the ashes, packed in a plastic bag, sealed with something that looked like a rusty rabies dog tag, and resting inside a stout polymer box. When I visited Becky last winter, I pulled the box off its temporary quarters on a closet shelf in Becky's guest bedroom. It was was surprisingly heavy--felt like at least 15 lbs., which made us wonder if cremated remains we had previously encountered weren't actually what they were supposed to be. The internet says (you know it's true of you learn it there) that the average weight for cremated human remains is around five lbs. Gen was a woman with bones larger than average, so maybe her remains would be heavier than average, but 10 lbs. heavier than average? Speculation ensued. Gen willed her body to science. She had two prosthetic knees and a pacemaker. Do they harvest and re-use them? If not, do prostheses such as these add more weight to the final total than, say, regular old bone-and-cartilege knees? How much does a pacemaker weigh? Robert, who has one, says a pacemaker weighs not very much and certainly not 10 lbs. worth.
The batteries in Bill's GPS began to flag. Barbara, a surgical nurse, pulled out a blue exam glove from her luggage and removed a couple of batteries from the fingers. The batteries, she explained, are medical waste. They come out of a surgical device that is used for two seconds during a particular procedure and then discarded. No wonder medical costs are so high. The batteries are nowhere near expended during the surgery, so she recovers them, stuffs them into exam gloves (ah, the many uses of exam gloves), and cheerfully totes them around the country so she can give them to friends and relatives. The TSA, it seems, has no problem with gloved batteries (or parental ashes); Barbara has never been detained for carrying them on board (and she travels a lot).