Death is one of life’s most universal experiences. Its inevitability is something that connects all of us as we mourn a person’s passing, celebrate their life and move on with our own. We believe all of these feelings are best expressed in a memorial ceremony as unique as the individual. Three years ago, I, Let Your Love Grow co-founder Annette Jenkins, suffered the loss of my father, Steve. This is the story of how our family created a service that truly celebrated his life.
Steve Ancy, was an American classic. A World War II veteran, he may have seemed tough to some, but those who knew him knew he had a heart of gold. Dad was a very practical man. He came from a generation that recycled before there was a name for it, and could fix just about anything. He believed everything deserved more than one life cycle.
Although Dad had experienced great loss throughout his lifetime, including losing an 18-year-old son to a car accident, Dad’s outlook on life was so grounded and real. He knew that life was for the living and that it is our responsibility to enjoy the life we build on this earth.
When Dad passed, our family came together to determine how to best memorialize him. Knowing our father’s practicality and knack for doing things himself, we chose cremation and to blend his ashes with Let Your Love Grow. Dad always believed in our company’s mission and we were happy to give him a new life, even in death.
Although Dad never wanted a lot of “fluff” when he passed, he was such a fixture in our small community that we wanted to provide an opportunity for our neighbors to pay their respects. We held a small visitation where friends and family alike could remember our father.
Dad loved chocolate, and we joked that his love of chocolate may have been the secret to his longevity. At the visitation, chocolate treats were available to all who attended. The great grandchildren felt that is was important that great grandpa have chocolate, so as we said goodbye a chocolate bar was slipped into his suit pocket.
Burial & Memorial
A date was chosen a few months after the cremation to make sure everyone could be present for the burial service. Bob and I blended Dad’s ashes with Let Your Love Grow prior to the service, for us it was a very therapeutic and moving experience. It was important that everyone in the family participated in the service. The service was truly an uplifting celebration of his life as all generations shared their favorite stories.
In keeping with Dad’s Catholic faith, we placed the blended mixture inside the Let Your Love container and lowered it into a grave next to our mother, Rose.
The memorial service was so personal for our family. Every passage and poem was specially chosen by a family member for its significance. For us, this day was about celebrating life and giving everyone the opportunity to cherish their memories, rather than dwell on the loss.
To this day, we visit Dad’s memorial and know we did the right thing. We honored our father as he would have wanted to be honored by mixing a traditional cremation with contemporary thinking. We also feel comfortable that we continued his life and gave it a valuable place in our Earth’s ecosystem. It truly was the perfect way to memorialize our father.