An Open Letter To My Dad: I Threw A Party In High School And Someone Smoked Grandma’s Ashes


Everyone dreams of throwing their very own Project-X style party in high school. I’m certain you’ve thrown or attended your fair share. I never had that vision, probably because I didn’t have enough friends— no Chads or Brads for me to haze into streaking through the neighbor’s yard until the cops come and Brad loses his football scholarship to U Tampa. But I was a senior and craved the post-party-puke cleanup, and more importantly: the attention. I was and still am a slut for attention. 

You were only going away for one night—a small trip in town to forget the lifetime mortgage you owe for a decision you made before computers existed. So, the day you left was the day I threw the fuck down. I invited everyone in my class–about 300 people–or 301 if you count my drama teacher, Mr. Miller. Three-hundred of my classmates confined to our bite-sized kitchen. It was going to be a disaster and I couldn’t wait.

Unfortunately, only ten out of the three-hundred people I invited showed up. But we made do with our water bottles of liquor and Miller’s vintage keg from his days at UMass. I parked my ass at the dining room table with our neighbor, Leo, for seven hours rolling joint after joint. It was a dream. 

The next day I got rave reviews: 

“That was okay.”

“Maybe next time don’t call it a ‘soiree’ on the Facebook invite?”

“Please don’t tell anyone I came or I’ll lose out on tenure.” 

My head was inflated, ego lifted, and my fingers were borderline arthritic. The night was an utter success—a real Project-W type jamboree. Now it was time to get my Mr. Clean on. So I shaved my head, bleached my eyebrows, and got to work. After the scrub, I scanned the pictures in the living room- family photos from when Mom had bangs, you had hair, and I was crushing on a boy who thought the earth was flat. My eyes landed on a picture of you and Grandma dancing at your wedding. She always wore that tight bun and matched her outfits to the “Ruby Red” lipstick she found in the sewer during the Great Depression. We miss you, Grandma.

But then I noticed this small, metal cylinder beside the sweet momento. I went over, picked it up, put it down, picked it up again, put my left hand in, took my left hand out, put my left hand back in, and shook it all about. I did the hokey pokey and I turned myself around. That’s what it’s all about. 

I suddenly realized it was Leo’s grinder! Thankfully, Leo only lived a stone’s throw away, so I was able to return his precious paraphernalia before you came home. In other words: success. Except, not.

A few days later you noticed something was missing. You were looking at that same wedding picture when you asked me, 

“Where’s Grandma?”

I naturally thought this was some straight-man trying to grieve thing so I placed one hand on your shoulder and said,

“She’s gone, but never forgotten.” 

But then, to my surprise, you said, 

“No, Madison. Where are Grandma’s Ashes?” 

You used my full name so I knew you were about to blow. 

I ran out the back door and right to Leo’s. Surely I’d explain it all and have the grinder-urn back in no time. Sorry, Grandma. 

But, and this is the part you don’t know, Grandma was smoked. Leo couldn’t help but sprinkle what he thought was ashy keef into his spliff. The good news is, Grandma likely went out (a second time) the way any Irish Catholic would want: washed down with a cold beer and some good company. 

That night I did the only thing I knew how to do: I rolled five fatties and smoked the shit outta them on the back porch. I had visions. I ate so many Cosmic Brownies. And I slept for three days. Most importantly, though, I made sure to flick every last ash into Grandma’s Urn.

So, if you catch yourself wanting to take a peek into Grandma’s grinder-urn, Grandma’s urn, know that you are looking at the remnants of my marijuana addiction and not your beloved late mother. But also know that Grandma lives inside every one of us, especially Leo. Rest in Leo, Grandma. And sorry, Dad. 


P.S. Tuition is due in a few days.

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