The greatest power each of us has

I realized there is more to the story.

When I was talking about weird families last week, I shared the time right after my father died and my family was trying to figure out how do you send off a man who has ticked off just about everyone who ever loved him?

Which brings me to this part of my story.

A few months before my dad died, I happened to ask him what he wanted when he died.

He was very clear. He wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread in Hawaii.

This made sense as some of his happiest times of his life came during our Hawaiian family vacations.

These were trips we would later learn we couldn’t afford and had no business taking, but that’s a story for yet another day.

The morning he died, I shared his final wish with my mother, brother and sister. They seemed relieved to not have to think of what we were going to do.

By the time my plane landed in Los Angeles, my brother announced, “We’re not doing that. Sure, we’ll cremate him, but he doesn’t deserve the effort and expense of spreading his ashes in Hawaii. We’re just going to bury him here in L.A.”

The rest of the family agreed. They were not wrong about my dad, but the plan didn’t sit right with me. I told that to the woman at the funeral home.

“No problem,” she said without even blinking. “A grown man makes about five pounds of ashes. We can split him up. Some of your dad can be buried here. You can take the rest of him to Hawaii.”

That’s how I ended up on a plane to Hawaii by myself. I sent Dad ahead. After a lifetime of trying to explain him, I didn’t want to have to explain him at the security check.

“See you in Hawaii,” I said as I dropped him at the shipping counter.

I found a quiet beach on the far side of Oahu and let the pouch of my dad’s ashes wash away in the warm ocean waters.

My weird family still thinks I’m weird for going to all this effort. It still makes sense to me and upholds my long-held belief: The only power any of us has is getting to be the kind of person you want to be.

I was so tired of the being the mess cleaner-upper, of ignoring and rewarding my dad’s bad behavior.

That’s not what was happening here.

For this one wild solo trip I got to be someone who honored a man’s final wishes.

That felt really good.

And powerful.

Which reminds me of yet another part of this story.

How this trip came together.

It will blow your mind.

With a tease like that I bet you will choose to be the kind of person who checks this space next week.

Daryn Kagan is the author of the book “Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts On Losing Her Job, Finding Love, A New Career, And My Dog, Always My Dog.” Email her at

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