Whistler, Canada

Outfit:  Hat made from her favorite Sears Pjs, skis from her old chase bank card, and poles from sewing needles

It is a symbol of Polly’s spirit. And a little home for her ashes. There are several Polly urns, or as I call them, her outfits. In each of her travel photographs she proudly stands 2 inches tall in her tiny cast-iron container, often adorning accessories made from her past belongings. And though Polly's urn returns home each time, a part of her is left behind to commemorate her far-reaching adventures.

When Polly died, she left behind a small closet of clothes, a few pieces of costume jewelry, a makeshift journal, and her bible. She had few worldly possessions but could fill an entire house with her personality. With only $1200 dollars to her name, it would’ve been a stretch to pay for the cost of a proper funeral.  At that point only the nursing staff, Kyle, and three others knew she even existed. A lonely and rarely visited grave site just wasn't an option.

Cremation seemed to be the most plausible solution. At first, it was basic thinking, one urn to spread the ashes at a small intimate service. However, upon discovering that cremation only cost $800, there would be money left over for other expenses. So as any sensible person would do, I went on an urn shopping spree. After purchasing one large urn, four mini 2-inch travel urns, two biodegradable turtle water urns, and three of the most awful floral-pattern cardboard travel tubes later, it all came full circle. I decided she would travel the world, with me, and whoever else would host her pocket size new home. Polly was about to have her wish of being a part of the world she so desperately missed.

This project is an opportunity for myself--and for every contributor on this site--to travel the world with Polly. Each story posted, and each picture taken, is by someone who felt inspired to bring her along on their own exciting life adventure. Perhaps you will be her next travel companion!

The Traveling Urn is more than just a blog though, it is a journey: for me, for those who knew her, and for you, the reader. It is a heartfelt, sometimes humorous, reminder that death is often misunderstood in our culture because it is simply too big and mysterious (and scary) to ponder. It's my hope that her memory and influence will be shared with each trip taken, every ash that is spread, and each conversation it may spark about life, love, and the mark we make in this world even after we’re gone.

By Cody Butler (Photo: Lance B.)