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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

The other morning, Josephine woke me up at 4 AM banging and scratching around in her crate. I figured she just needed to go out, so I got up and let her out. By let her out, I mean I opened my bedroom door and then made sure all the dog doors where open. Then I went back to bed. I was almost back into dreamland when a loud crash jolted me out of bed. Josephine had knocked over Pepaw's ashtray while trying to lick the inside of a bowl Michael had used for peanuts.  I did the thing you are not supposed to do in dog training. I swatted Josephine's butt and then picked her up as if she were an unruly toddler and put her back in her crate. The damage was already done though. Pepaw's ashtray was now broken on the floor. 

When Pepaw died, we all descended on his house to clean it out. He hadn't really been living in the house for some time. He preferred the comforts of his camp trailer. He still used the kitchen to store his MoonPies and spare aluminum coffee percolators. There was evidence that he still lounged from time to time in his recliner to watch TV, but mostly he slept in the trailer and spent time on the porch. Yet the house was full of home like things, furniture, old photos. Things that accumulate in a family home. All of this stuff had to be dealt with and the bickering had already started over who gets what. I've never been the type to care about such things. Actually, I hate the whole process. It's gross. I took Pepaw's camp stove because it was in good working order and we needed a camp stove at the time. I also took one of Pepaw's ashtrays. 

Pepaw was the smoker in the family. A number of ashtrays were scattered around all over his house. Most of them full. I wanted the ugliest, goddiest ashtray we could find. I knew that this was something no one else would want and thus I would not hear anyone complain about how that was promised to them or blah blah yuck blah. I also wanted that ashtray because I knew that without a doubt every time I looked at it, I would be reminded of Pepaw and the way he smelled like Old Spice and stale cigarettes.  Which I know doesn't really sound appealing, but I can't think of one bad memory when I think of those smells. Katrina was the one that actually found my ashtray. Her task was to wash all things dish like that day. She lifted the large orange ashtray out of the sink and said "Cindy, what about this one?" 

It was perfect. It was this large rhomboid shaped boat of an ashtray, burnt orange with flecks of black and gold. It begged to be set on a mod coffee table in a wood paneled basement with green shag carpet. It was the kind of ashtray that you could just imagine some hipster upcycling  into a bird feeder by gluing hooks and attaching chains to each corner.  It was so ugly it was beautiful and it was mine. Since then, that ashtray has always had a spot in my home. It has also always been known as Pepaw's ashtray. It tends to be a catch-all for things like nail clippers and keys. Remote controls and junk mail. 

I was pretty upset when I saw it laying on the floor in pieces. Then I realized that only two pieces had broken off and they were clean breaks. I can totally fix this. And I will. Because it's Pepaw's astray.