Mary Bower was supposed to be laid to rest this weekend, surrounded by family on the shores of Yarmouth, N.S., where she grew up.
But after transporting her ashes from Alberta on a final cross-Canada trip before the big send-off, Bower’s sons accidentally misplaced her urn during a stop in Moncton, N.B.
Now her family is appealing to the public for help getting it back.
“Just the thought of her ashes being out there — who knows where, if they’ve been tossed in the trash or if somebody has them. It’s just very upsetting,” said Jennifer Muise, Bower’s niece.
Muise said Bower was originally from Yarmouth but moved to Alberta, where two of her sons, Joey and Andrew Bower, also live.
She’d wanted to travel back to Yarmouth to visit in 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, pushing those plans aside.
Before she was able to make a final visit, Bower died in December 2020 at 61, following a years-long battle with cancer.
“We weren’t able to get to her when she was sick,” said Muise, who lives in Yarmouth.
“So about a year ago, [Bower’s sons] started planning this trip to come home to bring her back home.”
Confusion after a smashed window
Muise said two of the sons flew from Alberta to meet their brother in Ontario last week.
From there, they drove through Quebec and into New Brunswick, with plans to stop on Prince Edward Island before finally ending in Yarmouth.
The three sons — Joey, Andrew and David Bower — stayed at Motel 6 in Moncton on Sunday night, and on Monday morning, woke up to find the back window of David’s car had been smashed. Nothing appeared to be stolen.
They decided to transfer all of the items from David’s car to Joey’s car, and carried on with their journey later that day before realizing the backpack containing their mother’s urn was missing.
“And in the mix of everything being transferred over, [David] thinks that the bookbag with my aunt’s ashes in it got left behind accidentally on the ground outside … and they went back to look for it and it was gone,” Muise said.
I would hope that somebody would do the right thing and return it.– Jennifer Muise
Muise said the three brothers spoke to staff at the hotel and left their contact information, but still haven’t received any word on the ashes.
“I would hope that somebody would do the right thing and return it,” Muise said.
“Anything else that’s in the backpack, it’s inconsequential. It doesn’t matter to us. It’s just the ashes that we would like to have back.”
‘She was very, very special to me’
Muise, 45, said her aunt held a special place in her heart.
When her mother died seven years ago, she said Bower stepped up and filled a void.
“She was my aunt, but she was very, very special to me,” she said.
“She sort of stepped up to the plate, and I’m grown now but still need a mom. And she was just the person that I always talked to. We talked often and she was very, very important to me.”
Muise said about 30 family members from across Canada were supposed to get together in Yarmouth to honour Bower.
She said the plan was for her three sons to arrive on Friday, and later hold a ceremony to spread her ashes by the ocean.
“This was really important to be able to do this and say goodbye because it’s been … not even really real because she’s been so far away.
“So to be able to have this, this final goodbye is very important.”
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