I was not able to attend my Uncle Barney's funeral over the summer and just saw one of the obituaries (reposted at legacy.com from an original in The Day of New London), which mentions a "final toast and raspberry cheer".
I had not heard of this custom before, but apparently his friends and loving children sent him off with what is also known as a Bronx cheer. (He was born in the Bronx.) That would not have been out of character for him as a last request.
Yesterday, his closest youngsters went out in a boat and took turns ladling his ashes — mixed with those of my aunt Julie from 17 years ago — into the Niantic River a few hundred feet from what was once the family home. My cupful of ashes contained a good proportion of bone fragments. There is still a lot of junk in his house to be disposed of, as well as the house itself, but that burden has not fallen to me. So yesterday's little ceremony on the water was, for me, a most satisfactory farewell.
My uncle tried all his life to write "the Great American Novel", an ambition for which his many gifts — chiefly working with his hands — did not qualify him.
Barney met Aunt Julie when he was 16 and they were both smitten. Family pressures separated them, and they married other people. But on his return from the Korean war he found her single and courted her again, divorced his wife, and at age 32 finally married her. Seeing the family home yesterday, my grandfather's retirement home and the place where Barney and Julie lived for the first 20 years or so of their marriage, I see that my uncle's real novel was his happy life with Julie, an honest love story of the sort you don't often encounter. The last line of that romance was apparently written on the Niantic yesterday morning.