Alison Remembered

This weekend we held our little memorial gathering in Oceanside, CA for my mother Alison. I’ll give a brief account for the many of you who either were fortunate enough to have known her or who, having followed the sad story of her final weeks in these pages, have written with kind words of support and sympathy.

My mom, in typical self-effacing fashion, had asked not to have an elaborate and ostentatious funeral, but had said rather that she wished to be cremated, and her ashes taken to the ocean. We commissioned a small vessel, the Oceanside Belle, for the purpose. There was some concern about getting my father on board, confined as he is to a wheelchair, but there were enough able bodies on hand to lift him over the gunwale.

It was not such a large group – besides my father, my brother David, my wife Nina, and me, there were David’s two grown sons Jon and Andrew, and a half-dozen or so close friends. We steamed out of Oceanside Harbor, under the warm California sun, with the Loch Rannoch Pipe Band blaring from the CD player. Once we were alone upon the waves, about a half mile offshore, we cut the motors and bobbed in the swell as, one after another, we spoke of this extraordinary woman and the many ways in which her all-too-brief life had enriched our own. David then strewed her ashes upon the water, and each of us in turn cast overboard a yellow (her favorite color) long-stemmed rose. We listened in silence to a recording of Pavarotti’s rendition of Nessun Dorma – a piece she loved – and then circled once around the floating flowers before cueing up the pipes once again and heading back to shore. We wept, all of us (I’m fighting tears as I write), but it was a beautiful, beautiful farewell, and I think she would have approved.

Thanks, once again, to all of you for your thoughts and prayers.

And thanks most of all to you, Mom, for the strength and beauty of your sweet spirit, and for the example you gave to us all of how a life ought to be lived. We love you far, far more than any words can ever say.


  1. Amy says

    Hi Malcolm,

    I just discovered your blog and all of the beautiful words written in tribute to Alison. She was indeed a very special woman. I had the pleasure of working briefly with both Alison and your father. Both wonderful individuals.

    Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

    Posted December 9, 2006 at 10:06 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Thank you, Amy, for visiting, for reading, and for your kind thoughts of my mother. I’m glad that you had a chance to get to know her; she was an extraordinary person, and we all miss her terribly.

    A very happy Christmas to you as well!


    Posted December 9, 2006 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

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