When Jacob’s wife suggested they get a hand-blown glass memorial heart from Loving Ashes to remember their adored family pet of seventeen years, the Kunene family set out to learn more…
It was back in 2000 that Jacob and his wife, Sinhle, moved into their Durban home – finding a stunning two-bedroom house in Westville where they could comfortably raise their three children and live out their retirement years together. The move from Johannesburg was stressful, and Sinhle thought a new addition to the family might bring some stability and a sense of the familiar.
The family had a pair of Border Collies back in Gauteng, Max and Jessie, but they decided to let a farmer and his family adopt them a week before they moved. It devastated the children (and Jacob to a degree), and for this reason, one Tuesday afternoon, Sinhle arrived home with a little bundle of golden joy.
Chester was a stunning long-haired Labrador, with a speckled black and brown nose and a fluffy tail that seemed to never stop wagging. He quickly became dad’s boy, as he would drag his blanket next to Jacob’s side of the bed and sleep there – every evening, without fail. Chester loved his new family, and his new family loved him. He was the very definition of a family dog, and he even had his own place at the dinner table.
In early 2017, a few years after the last Kunene child left school, Jacob noticed the odd spluttering cough coming from Chester. It had been a year or two since his cataracts totally covered his eyes, and Chester would often walk into the home’s many sliding doors.
Regardless of how frail he became, Chester would still religiously bring his blanket from the scullery to Jacob’s side of the bed, until one Monday night when old Chester was nowhere to be found. Jacob and Sinhle grabbed their bedside torches and made their way through the house, room by room, unable to locate their pup.
They opened the sliding door that lead onto the garden, and shone their beams across the yard. Jacob scanned the flower beds at the property’s far wall, and noticed a mound of what looked a yellow blanket covering a pile of leaves. He told his wife to return indoors, and Jacob went to investigate.
Lying there, among the Geraniums and Daffodils, was Chester the Labrador. He lay on his side, with his eyes closed and his fluffy tail gently propped up against the stem of a small shrub. He looked at ease, and Jacob assumed he’d experienced a peaceful death. Now came the hard part: breaking the tragic news to the rest of the family.
The other four members of the Kunene family took Chester’s passing like a punch to the stomach. They were gutted; naively assuming that after being around for seventeen years, he’d probably live forever. Sinhle took it the worst, as she was the one who’d picked Chester up from the farm in Mpumalanga all those years ago.
Chester and the three Kunene kids had grown up together. They’d often play fetch in the yard, and Chester would interrupt the boys’ cricket practice by grabbing the red ball from the fence and running away with it. They’d chase him all afternoon until he’d eventually get tired and let them have their ball back. Jacob was the one that took their beloved Chester to be cremated, and sobbed all the way home as he held the little container of ashes against his chest.
Sinhle tried to remedy the situation, offering to adopt a kennel dog, but the Kunenes were hearing nothing of it. This state of perpetual sadness continued for months, clinging to the house like a poltergeist, until one day when Sinhle noticed an interesting advertisement on Facebook.
It was promoting hand-blown glass memorial pieces, in the shape of hearts and orbs. She clicked on the link and it took her directly to the Loving Ashes website. As she scrolled through the stunning memorial hearts, she learnt that the process required a small amount of the departed loved one or pet’s ashes. With that she knew exactly what the Kunene family needed to remember their Chester by – a beautiful glass memorial heart.
The process was effortless, as she was able to order the memorial piece online. Two days later a courier came around with a small metal container, asked that a tablespoon of Chester’s ashes be placed within, and departed with a little bit of Chester in his possession. Less than two weeks passed and Sinhle heard a knock at the door – it was the same courier, smiling from ear to ear, with a cardboard box addressed to the Kunenes from Loving Ashes. She removed the velvet bag, handing it to Jacob as she read the note that accompanied the parcel. Jacob untied the bag’s rope, and lifted out from it a glass heart so spectacular – it made them both tear up. Chester was beautiful again, like he had always been to them.
Our skilled glass blowers at Loving Ashes are able to memorialise, in stunningly blown glass, both departed loved ones and family pets. See our gallery for memorials we have created thus far, and get in touch with us here for any and all questions you might have regarding the process.