On what would have been my father's 75th birthday in June 2009, we laid a portion of his ashes to rest in Germany, where my mother and my brother Alex's ashes are buried.
One week earlier we had taken another portion to Hungary, where my father was born. Before we arrived at the village cemetery in Veszprém, a hole had been drilled in the cement slab on the grave of my father's father, through to the soil.
As we gathered in the rain, my niece Sage did the honors. Like a young apprentice in some cosmic kitchen, she used a wooden spoon to mix together three generations of remains, those of her grandfather (my father) Paul; of her great-grandfather (my grandfather) Michael; and of her uncle (Paul's son, my brother) Alex. The spoon itself had been carved by Alex, who died before Sage was born.