I became obsessed with the possibility that I would not be able to get the old man’s remains through airport security. The box they put him in was very heavy and I had been told that sometimes they put the ashes in a metal box and put that in the wooden box and if there was a metal box in the wooden box that security might think I was carrying a bomb. That freaked me out. Showing up at the memorial service without the remains of the man of the hour struck me as being like showing up at a wedding without the bride or groom.
So the next time I was flying somewhere I asked airport security about the matter. And the IQ-less young man there said he could not guarantee that they would go through the security check. I said I had heard that you could put a quarter under the box and if you could see the quarter with the machine then it would go through. The IQ-loess young man looked stern and said I was not supposed to know that.
This was not reassuring. So I phoned the mortuary and they referred me to the crematorium; everybody specializes these days. They assured me the box was just wood with ashes in it. But still I didn’t trust anybody by this point. We had my wife’s father’s ashes too, in a smaller box; and it weighed half of what my father’s box weighed and they were about the same height and weight at the point of expiration. How could that be. While talking with the crematorium people, I had my father’s box in my lap and turning it over happened to notice four screws.
If you want something done right, you have got to do it yourself. So I unscrewed the screws and took out my father’s ashes that were contained in heavy plastic. The ashes looked very much like ashes; and I was reassured to see no metal in the box. But sure enough at the airport, they pulled aside the suitcase with the old man in it and asked me what was in there. I said it was my father’s ashes and what was the matter and they said they couldn’t see through it. I said there was no metal in it.
A security guy walked over and took the bag to another security machine. I saw him slip a quarter under the box which he had taken out of the bag and put in through the machine, and then he put it back in the bag and said I could take it with me. Thank God. The problem all along had not been metal, but the simple density of human ashes.