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ashes down the loo

How to honour a friend: flush him down the loo

Okay, so that might not be the first thing you think when considering the options for the ashes of a lifelong friend. However, that is what Thomas McDonald decided to do to honour his friend.

Any old toilets, you might be thinking? No, specifically those of baseball grounds in the US. Why? Well, firstly Mr McDonald and his pal were huge baseball fans and long-time supporters of the New York Mets (the baseball team based in the district of Queens in New York City). But why the toilet?! The second reason is that his friend was a master plumber and it seemed appropriate.

He had known his friend Roy Riegel since they were eight and had grown up together near the Shea Stadium.

To date Mr McDonald, has dropped some of the ashes of his friend in 16 Major League Baseball parks. He told the New York Daily News he had just one more visit to make before his pilgrimage was complete.

“I’ve been doing this for seven or eight years,” said McDonald, “We grew up since I was in the Cub Scouts when I was a little kid, known him since I was about 8. Was as big a Mets fan as I know.”

McDonald, began his odyssey by taking ashes and discreetly scattering a token amount of the ashes on trips to stadia around the States. Then one night in an Irish bar, he came up  this idea (one wonders how many great ideas have originated in Irish bars around the world!).

“I went to the bathroom and I was like, I know what to do, because he was … the best plumber you ever saw,”, “He was a master.”

So far, McDonald has scattered ashes in: Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit and Baltimore, among others. He has even flushed Mr Riegel’s ashes in the toilet of his hotel room inside the Rogers Center in Toronto. But he does this all under a strict code: (1) the game must be in progress and (2) the ashes are always from a small bottle wrapped in old Mets ticket stubs.

He has even taken some back to Ireland to scatter at the Cliffs of Moher – a favourite destination of the deceased.

So now he has one final journey Durham Athletic Park in North Carolina, where the movie “Bull Durham” was filmed. “They give tours of the old park that they were still using when they filmed the movie in the 1980s still there, (so I’m) going to try and do that one there,” he said.

Whilst some may balk at this act, I like it, he is truly memorialising a friend. He has put thought, energy, care and commitment into his farewell and for that I salute him. The one small issue that in an old life I worked waste water world (sewage undertakers) and they didn’t half get on their high horse about things going down the loo that weren’t supposed to be there…

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