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‘Scatter Day’ provides final resting place for loved ones at no charge

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Saturday at Sunset Memorial Park on northeast Menaul Boulevard in Albuquerque, Anna Franco finally got the chance to give her husband, Misias, a final resting place.

A message attached to a white rose sits with other at Sunset Memorial Park, where ashes were scattered on Saturday at no charge. (Maddy Hayden/Journal)

“He was a great husband, father and uncle,” she said. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do this.”

Franco and several of her family members gathered on Saturday for the cemetery’s second “Scatter Day,” where ashes may be scattered at no cost.

Participants are also provided a free name inscription on one of the cemetery’s memorial walls.

The family also brought along the ashes of Misias’ sister, Pauline Lyons, who died on Easter 2016.

“This is really a blessing,” her son, Kenny Lyons, said.

Family members of Misias Franco and Pauline Lyons, including Kenny Lyons, fourth from left, and Anna Franco, fifth from left, scattered the ashes of both during Scatter Day at Sunset Memorial Park in Albuquerque on Saturday. (Maddy Hayden/Journal)

Chris Keller, vice president of French Funerals and Cremations which organizes the event, said studies suggest that one in five American families have cremated remains at home.

“In a town like Albuquerque, you do the math: There’s 20 or 30,000 sets of cremated remains sitting in basements, in attics, on mantelpieces, under the bed, that are going to end up somewhere,” Keller said. “And so many of them, we do know, end up in a landfill. And that breaks my heart.”

So, on Saturday, dozens of employees set up at tables to help families through paperwork and deciding where they wanted to scatter the ashes of their loved one.

The memorial park offered two options: one at the Kiva area, an adobe structure with an underground vault at its center, and a rose garden.

The engraved name and scattering services have a $300 value, Keller said.

Many of the names on a large wall covered in granite slabs were products of last year’s Scatter Day, when 400 families participated.

Since then, Keller said they’ve heard from funeral homes and cemeteries around the country – and even one in Australia – wanting to know how to put on their own similar events.

“If everybody in the country starts doing this, then the conversation in the culture will change,” Keller said. “People will realize that it’s still a body, you still need to find a final resting place.”

Rebecca Carrillo said she had the ashes of her mother, Josephine Carrillo Avila, for 20 years before hearing about Scatter Day.

At midday Saturday, with a few clouds in the sky and a pleasant breeze blowing, Carrillo and her son, Damian Moya, poured the ashes into the vault together.

Many of the names upon these granite cenotaphs at Sunset Memorial Park were inscribed after last year’s Scatter Day event. (Maddy Hayden/Journal)

“Rest in peace,” she said quietly.

Rebecca Carrillo, right, and her son Damian Moya spread the ashes of her mother, Josephine Carrillo Avila during Saturday’s Scatter Day event at Sunset Memorial Park. (Maddy Hayden/Journal)