My maternal uncle, the only sibling of my late mother, recently sent me a rock. It isn’t just any rock but something heavy with memory and sentiment. I picked up this smooth stone under the waves on the shore of Lake Michigan, on the western side of the lower peninsula of state.  I was six years old at the time. I painted it with three scenes of nautical nature. On the other side has someone’s handwriting – I cannot remember whose – commemorating the event. I gave the gift to my grandfather, whom I called Banca. When I visited my grandparents I saw it sitting on his shelf in his den. Apparently Uncle took it after my grandparents died in the mid-70s, when he had to clear out the house for sale. He could have thrown it out. I had forgotten about it. 

The stone came in the post with an explanatory letter from Uncle explaining he was clearing out his house and he thought to pass it on back to me.  

Now the stone sits on my shelf, heavy with memories. As you can see, fifty years has faded the scenes to a vague three-way outline. Happily, the ‘back side’ is still legible, and now it sits that side up. I can read it every time I get dressed in the morning.  In a way it resembles a faded headstone, the type you find and read in an old cemetery. 

I decided long ago after I die I want my ashes spread on the shores of Lake Michigan.  I want my ashes spread at sunset. I have added a second step to this ritual: someone should throw this rock into the waters after me.  I’ve borrowed this stone from the lake for nearly sixty years; it will be good to return it to its rightful spot, along with its memories and my ashes.