Memorial to Sandra

Updated: 16 February 2023 -- Posted something on my personal blog about the 20th anniversary of Sandra's death, as well as a comment about possibly raising funds for a memorial park bench for Sandra in Richmond.
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Sandra's Ashes

My beautiful wife Sandra, 1958-2003. Picture taken Christmas day 2002. Sandra's wish was to be cremated. However, she didn't leave any particular instructions as to what she wanted done with her ashes; knowing her, that may have been her intention -- to let those remaining make the decision. Add to that the fact that both Lillian (her mother) and I wanted to keep some, and I started to think. We asked the crematorium to split her ashes between two urns (which are sealed) and to leave enough over for us to scatter. Mike (her older brother) has some plans of his own and (as usual) my plans started to run amok.

As you know, if you knew Sandra, she loved to travel. Her passions (at least later in her life when I knew her) were chocolate, tea, books, children, lilacs, her dogs, and travel -- not necessarily in that order. It occurred to me that it would be wrong to scatter Sandra's ashes in only one place.

Thanks to her good friend Peggy, I also realised that it is important that at least some of her ashes are scattered in some definable location in the area where she lived, so that people can go and visit her, bring her the flowers she adored, and be with her. Sandra had two express wishes with respect to her legacy on this Earth: 1) In keeping with her concern for the environment she did not want to take up space; and 2) She wanted the absolute minimum spent on dealing with her remains. On the first anniversary of her death I scattered some of her ashes in Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. The details are below under the highlighted date of 16 February 2004.

I then thought of places that were special to Sandra, of places she spoke about with joy in her heart, of places we had spent time together, and of the places we never would see together. I started to make a list. Below are the some of the places where I have scattered some of her ashes. I will also take Sandra with me on any of my future travels, and some of her will stay behind at each stop.

As of 9 April 2012, Sandra's ashes have been scattered in 32 locations on 5 continents (plus Hawai'i) in 1 sea in 20 countries and 3 Canadian provinces and territories.

The most recent scattering is indicated on the map above by the bouncing ball. The free Flash Player is required to see the map.

Scattering details
Place Date Notes
I use Google Earth to determine the coordinates of a scattering, unless there is a source for that information at the location. Sources are noted next to the coordinates.
Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada
Canadian flag. 56° 14' 43.24" N 120° 44' 30.59" W (Google Earth)*
27 August 2003 First scattering. When working for CP Air in Fort St. John, Sandra used to love lying in the grass at the end of the runway to watch the Boeing 737s take off over her. Her ashes were scattered in the same grass near the threshold of runway 20. She will forever look up at the aircraft taking off over her from runway 02. Long-time friends Peggy and Chris were present, as well as Alvin who worked with her at YXJ.
Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya), Zambia
Zambian flag. 17° 55' 42.67" S 25° 51' 26.16" E (Google Earth)
26 September 2003 Although Sandra never visited Victoria Falls, we were planning to do so in late 2002 had she been strong enough to travel. I scattered some of Sandra's ashes from the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls Bridge (over the Zambezi River) in the company of my friend Arthur from the UK, with whom Sandra corresponded occasionally. It was initially my intention to scatter her ashes from the bottom of the bungee jump from the bridge, but the logistics were too difficult.
Shiwa Ng'andu, Zambia
Zambian flag. 11° 12' 6.68" S 31° 44' 40.38" E (Google Earth)*
3 October 2003 Sandra would have loved to visit this "English manor in the African bush", complete with all of its rich history. Although it wasn't originally my intention to scatter some of her ashes here, I thought it a perfect setting. Friends Arthur from the UK and Heather from Zambia were present.
Gemsbok National Park, Botswana
Botswanan flag. 25° 33' 57.9" S 20° 41' 18.08" E (Google Earth)*
6 November 2003 The Gemsbok National Park in Botswana and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa together form the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which, as the name suggests, spans the South Africa / Botswana border. Just inside Botswana, by the road that meanders along the border, I scattered some of Sandra's ashes in the presence of my Uncle Stewart and Aunt Rona. Now she is closer to the lions that so fascinated her on our trip to South Africa in 2001.

Postscript, 16 February 2012: My nanna (mentioned in the next entry) died on 2 July 2011. On 16 February 2012 -- what would have been Nanna's 88th birthday (twice the age that Sandra lived to) and the 9th anniversary of Sandra's death -- my uncle and aunt scattered some of Nanna's ashes, also in the Kalahari.
Orkney, South Africa
South African flag. 26° 58' 27.43" S 26° 39' 54.27" E (Google Earth)
13 November 2003 Sandra admired my nanna's garden when we visited here in 2001, and the two of them enjoyed time together over cups of tea. It seemed like a good setting for Sandra among the strelitzias (birds of paradise).
Harare (formerly Salisbury), Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia)
Zimbabwean flag. 17° 46' 33.75" S 31° 1' 4.64" E (Google Earth)
1 December 2003 I scattered some of Sandra's ashes in the garden of the house where I grew up. Rhodesia is the land of my birth.
Amsterdam, Nederland
Dutch flag. 52° 21' 26.6" N 4° 52' 51.64" E (Google Earth)
15 December 2003 Amsterdam was one of Sandra's favourite destinations. Although we didn't have a chance to come here together, we had made some tentative plans around the blooming of flowers in one of the well-known gardens here. I scattered some of Sandra's ashes amongst a small grove of trees next to the van Gogh museum, a place I am quite sure she would have visited while here.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Canadian flag. 49° 14' 30.61" N 123°6' 53.04" W (Google Earth)
16 February 2004 On the first anniversary of Sandra's passing I scattered some of her ashes in Queen Elizabeth Park. You can find the location amongst the daffodils (at least for that part of the year when they are blooming) in the north side of the oval flower bed opposite the cedar of Lebanon tree. The tree and its associated plaque are item 7 on the maps posted in the park.
Macksville, New South Wales, Australia
Australian flag. 30° 42' 23.34" S 152° 55' 17.83" E (Google Earth)
9 March 2004 I don't believe that Sandra made it to Australia; I know it wasn't high on her list of places to go when we were together. I scattered some of her ashes in the Nambucca River in Macksville, about 10 km before the river runs into the Tasman Sea in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand. The area is a beautiful one, full of beautiful sandy beaches that I know Sandra would have loved.
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Australian flag. 31° 49' 34.97" S 115° 44' 29.49" E (Google Earth)
25 March 2004 If Sandra would have loved the beaches on the east coast of Australia, she would have just adored Perth with its almost-unbroken string of beautiful, white, sandy beaches. I scattered some of her ashes in the Indian Ocean here.
Zürich, Switzerland
Swiss flag. 47° 21' 49.65" N 8° 32' 42.7" E (Google Earth)*
6 July 2005 While on a brief stop in Zürich, on a day when the weather was terrible for a summer day, I went down to the Zürichsee (also known in English as the Lake of Zürich) and scattered some of Sandra's ashes in the lake. Apparently when the weather is nicer, you can see the Alps from there. In many respects, the Zürichsee is to Zürich what English Bay is to Vancouver. Sandra visited Zürich some years ago with her friend Kathy.
Stirling, Scotland
Union Jack. 56° 7' 28.94" N 3° 56' 47.23" W (Google Earth)*
20 July 2005 On a visit to Stirling Castle, former seat of past Scottish royalty, I scattered some of Sandra's ashes amongst the flowers in the Bowling Green Gardens, a lovely setting within the walls of a spectacular and commanding castle on the River Forth.
Sudden Valley, Washington, United States of America
American flag. 48° 43' 1.5" N 122° 18' 57.59" W (Google Earth)*
16 February 2006 Before we met, Sandra used to enjoy water skiing with family and friends on Lake Whatcom near Bellingham. On the third anniversary of her passing, my friend John (with whom Sandra quickly formed a strong bond when they met) and I scattered some of Sandra's ashes there.
Monaco-Ville, Monaco
Monégasque flag. 43° 43' 55.06" N 7° 25' 36.97" E (Google Earth)*
18 July 2008 In a setting that Sandra would surely have described as "spectacular", I placed some of her ashes at the base of a tree in the gardens just down the hill from the Palais Princier (Prince's Palace) in Monaco.
Barcelona, Spain
Spanish flag. 41° 21' 22.67" N 2° 10' 37.57" E (Google Earth)
20 July 2008 On a beautiful Spanish evening I scattered some of Sandra's ashes in the harbour at Barcelona.
At sea, Mediterranean Sea
Spacer. 38° 45.86' N 7° 25.38' E (ship's navigation system)
21 July 2008 Using a stone collected in Barcelona, a single tissue, and a blade of grass plucked from a floral arrangement on the ship, I created a neat little package containing some of Sandra's ashes to be dropped into the Mediterranean Sea. (Sandra would have been impressed with my attempt to keep things environmentally-friendly.) At 17:14 local time (UTC plus two hours), somewhere southwest of the coast of Sardinia and approximately half way between the Balearic Islands and Tunis, I dropped her from the stern into the ship's wake, and watched as she sank.
Carthage, Tunisia
Tunisian flag. 36° 51' 17.71" N 10° 20' 4.34" E (Google Earth)
22 July 2008 The ruins of the Antonine Baths in Carthage, on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, seemed like a nice spot, so I scattered some of Sandra's ashes there.
Valletta, Malta
Maltese flag. 35° 53' 42.23" N 14° 30' 42.21" E (Google Earth)
23 July 2008 In Valletta, the capital of Malta, I buried some of Sandra's ashes in a nice flower bed in the Upper Barrakka Gardens overlooking Fort Lascaris, where there is a ceremonial firing of a cannon at noon each day.
Pompeii, Italy
Italian flag. 40° 45' 0.87" N 14° 29' 12.21" E (Google Earth)
25 July 2008 As you will know if you knew Sandra, she had a great sense of humour and a sense of mischievousness. So what better place to scatter a few of her ashes -- among the excavated ruins of Pompeii -- than in a walled garden (although it may very well have been indoors during Pompeii's heyday) closed to the public right behind the famous Lupanar -- or brothel. A scattering always calls for a moment of reflection, but this one also called for a chuckle.
Rome, Italy
Italian flag. 41° 53' 30.11" N 12° 29' 10.16" E (Google Earth)
27 July 2008 The ashes of the late partner of a good friend of mine, who also got to know Sandra briefly, are scattered among the foundation stones of the Temple of Vesta in the Forum of ancient Rome. Since Dave and Sandra formed a quick and close bond, it seemed fitting that some of her ashes be scattered nearby -- and they were, also among the same foundation stones, but in a slightly different place.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Canadian flag. 46° 30' 36.24" N 84° 20' 20.97" W (Google Earth)
17 August 2009 I was hoping to get to Midland on this trip, but a change of plans meant that Sault Ste. Marie was as close as I got. However, at least Sandra made it to Ontario, the province of her birth. Early in the morning I scattered some of her ashes on the north bank of the Saint Marys River, across the river from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, in the United States.
Cologne, Germany
German flag. 50° 56' 44.58" N 6° 57' 13.35" E (Google Earth)
19 August 2009 After dinner at an out-of-the-way restaurant in Cologne, I scattered some of Sandra's ashes under a big tree in the Dechant-Löbbel Platz outside the restaurant. Sandra loved German food, and we dined at the German Club in Vancouver on several occasions, so I'm sure she won't mind being stationed outside this place.
Antwerp, Belgium
Belgian flag. 51° 12' 43.19" N 4° 24' 47.35" E (Google Earth)
24 August 2009 Late in the evening I visited the Stadspark, close to the historic centre of Antwerp, where I scattered some of Sandra's ashes in a grassy area near a stream.
Mutianyu, China
Chinese flag. 40° 26' 34.69" N 116° 33' 25.77" E (Google Earth)
29 November 2009 Sandra's friend Nancy and I made our way by bus and taxi from Beijing to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. It was on this section of the wall, in 2002, that Nancy and her sister Patricia had their photograph taken with a sign they'd made, sending warm wishes back to Sandra in Vancouver. Nancy did the honours here, scattering some of Sandra's ashes on the sunny south side of the wall.
Nairobi, Kenya
Kenyan flag. 1° 19' S 36° 56' E (airport database)
9 May 2010 I had about an eight-hour layover in Nairobi on the way from Lusaka to London, so I went through the formalities of entering the country on a ten-dollar transit visa to see what was beyond the enclosed space of the gate area of the airport. In front of the arrivals terminal I found a grassy area surrounded by flags. I scattered some of Sandra's ashes there among some bushes.
Dublin, Ireland
Irish flag. 53° 26' N 6° 15' W (airport database)
12 May 2010 I had hoped that one day I'd be able to show Sandra where I'd spent three years at boarding school at Blackrock College, in the Blackrock suburb of Dublin. However, that never came to pass. On this day, as I walked with Sandra's ashes in my pocket to see my aunt and one of my cousins for dinner along a familiar route I had trodden many times over those three years, I came across Carysfort Park. As I stepped through the gate and surveyed the park, I said to myself, "You know what? This is the place." The sun was shining and, as in Amsterdam a little over six years earlier, there was a copse with one young tree not much more than a sapling. I scattered some of Sandra's ashes at the foot of that tree.
Little Beach, Maui, Hawai'i, United States of America
American flag. 20° 38' 7.22" N 156° 27' 7.11" W (Google Earth)
17 August 2010 If you know something about Sandra, and you know something about the fabled Little Beach on Maui, you'll know why the combination is perfect. While watching yet another a glorious sunset, I scattered some of Sandra's ashes among the rocks at the north end of the beach, and watched as the waves slowly swept her away.
San Francisco, California, United States of America
American flag. 37° 36' 57.45" N 122° 23' 24.33" W (Google Earth)
19 August 2010 I had a location in San Francisco picked out for Sandra in advance: Ghirardelli Square. What could be more perfect? Sandra, chocolate. Chocolate, Sandra. What I didn't realise is that the place isn't a leafy green square; it's a concrete jungle crawling with tourists. So having missed all of the decent opportunities by the end of our day-long visit, Sandra ended up at yet another airport -- her third, although the first (YXJ) was intentional.
Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa
South African flag. 34° 21' 25" S 18° 28' 26" E (sign at the Cape of Good Hope)
23 July 2011 Sandra's second trip to South Africa only came about at the last minute. In fact, I left home on short notice with a small container of her ashes with no particular destination in mind, and this spectacular location presented itself only by chance. Also due to a lack of planning, I didn't realise that I could easily get to the Cape of Good Hope -- the most south-westerly point in Africa -- and so some of Sandra's ashes were actually scattered at Cape Point, the location of a lighthouse up the hill from the Cape of Good Hope -- also known as the Cape of Storms. The winds on this particular day -- as they probably are on most days, actually -- may have been the strongest I have ever experienced, and they caused me to lose my balance on several occasions. But I managed to find a relatively sheltered nook for Sandra just below the Cape Point lighthouse, and scattered some of her ashes there among the shrubbery of the fynbos. I then ended up at the Cape of Good Hope a short while later, and scattered the remaining ashes that I had with me in the Atlantic Ocean.
Shuswap River, British Columbia, Canada
Canadian flag. 50° 36' 42.21" N 118° 45' 47.99" W (Google Earth)
27 August 2011 For some reason it took years, but Sandra's close friend Kathy finally had the opportunity to scatter some of Sandra's ashes. She chose to do so on the bank of the Shuswap River, about thirty kilometres east-north-east (true) of Enderby near where the river meets Mabel Lake, at the Kingfisher Interpretive Centre. Sandra, Kathy and Kathy's husband Matt had spent a nice day there in the river some years ago, as we did on this day too.
Lake Laberge, Yukon, Canada
Canadian flag. 61° 4' 38.57" N 135° 11' 53.03" W (Google Earth)
23 March 2012 There are strange things done in the midnight sun
    By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
    That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
    But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
    I cremated Sam McGee.

The Cremation of Sam McGee (refrain), by Robert Service

Sandra loved this poem, and loved it even more when I read it to her. (Sadly, her copy of the book disappeared when I packed up and moved out of our place after she died.) So on a visit to Whitehorse it seemed that some of Sandra's own cremated remains were destined to join those of the fictional Sam McGee "on the marge of Lake Lebarge" (as Service spells it in his poem for alliterative effect), which is only about a half hour drive north of the city. I scattered some of her ashes on the frozen surface, just off the west shore ("marge") of the lake, across from Richthofen Island. (Interestingly, the island was named in 1883 by an American after the uncle of the future Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. the Red Baron, World War I ace.) So far this is the most northerly scattering of Sandra's ashes.
Valle Scura, Italy
Italian flag. 44° 30' 23.82" N 8° 34' 39.35" E (Universal Transverse Mercator [UTM] conversion to latitude and longitude)
9 April 2012 If possible, I like to pick locations that had or might have had some meaning to Sandra, or that have meaning in retrospect. Sometimes, to be honest, I might choose a location simply because it's convenient, my options are restricted, or because of local sensitivities. However, the overall premise, as stated at the top of this page, is that Sandra loved to travel, and so she continues to go places and, in a way, live on in our memories because of the new places that she visits and I document.

But on this occasion she was part of one of my own expeditions to a place that has some meaning to me. This was a trip to north-western Italy, to the crash site of a Royal Air Force Spitfire that was shot down by German forces during World War II. The pilot of that aircraft -- Ian Smith, future prime minister of Rhodesia -- managed to bail out before the crash. He was sheltered by locals, and also participated in activities with the "partisani" (the Italian resistance movement), before managing to escape to Allied-controlled France. I am indebted to locals in the area, whose personal mission it is to discover these crash sites, for their assistance with my own mission. At the crash site, in the Valle Scura (dark or obscured valley) of the Ligurian Alps, north-north-west of Urbe (in the Province of Savona, Liguria region), I scattered some of Sandra's ashes.
Midland, Ontario, Canada
Canadian flag.
TBA Future scattering. Sandra's family had a cottage on Georgian Bay in Ontario where she spent many of her formative years. I plan to find it and scatter some ashes there.
Tofino, British Columbia, Canada
Canadian flag.
TBA Future scattering. One of my favourite places to relax, and a place that Sandra visited with her friend Marie shortly before we started dating.
Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Canadian flag.
TBA Future scattering. Every summer for quite a few years, Sandra and her friend Vicki would hike up to Garibaldi Lake. The last time she did it was with me in 1999; after that hip and back injuries sustained at work, and eventually the cancer, prevented her from going on this annual pilgrimage.
Ruby Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Canadian flag.
TBA Future scattering. The last holiday Sandra took, in September 2002, was her reward to herself when she completed her initial six months of chemotherapy. We stayed at Ruby Lake, and took a day cruise up to Chatterbox Falls further up the British Columbia coast. Sandra and I spent some very special time together on a small island in the lake after swimming over to it.
Curaçao, Bermuda, Barbados, Greece, Israel, Cultus Lake (BC, Canada), Hawai'i (Punchbowl Cemetery, Honolulu) TBA Future scatterings. These are all places that Sandra has visited. It's an ambitious list, but maybe one day she'll go back to all of them.
* Coordinates marked with an asterisk are approximate -- as close as I can get with Google Earth. Entering these coordinates into Google Earth might not yield the exact location of the scattering.

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