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A lonely school teacher who discovers his deceased father’s closeted homosexuality finds he is unable to cope with his own insecurities and his family’s prejudices—prompting an all consuming obsession with returning his father’s ashes to his British birthplace.
After learning of the death of his father, Connecticut school teacher Neil MacLeod heads out to San Diego to make the final arrangements. As he tries to cope with his complex emotional response, he makes a shocking discovery: his father lead a double life as a homosexual. Astounded by this, he begins to wonder who his father really was. To make matters worse, Neil later finds out that this was a fact known to everyone in his family—except for him.
Dropping many of his father’s clothes off at a local thrift shop, an employee there tells him the story of how he took his mother’s remains back to Italy. Inspired, Neil decides that is what he will do—he will take the remains back to his father’s birthplace in England. Encouraged in this endeavor by one of his father’s old friends in the U.K., Neil becomes convinced that this last act of closure will heal all of the old wounds with this father. He becomes obsessed with the idea.
Upon his return to Connecticut, he finds that his substitute teacher—a Scottish woman named Kate—has arranged a welcome home party for him on behalf of his students. Touched by the gesture, he bonds instantly with Kate. Things take a turn for the worst, though, when the coroner’s report from San Diego comes with dreadful news: his father died of a drug overdose. Neil learns that his father’s longtime lover had recently passed away, and the depression may have been too much for him. The old friend from the U.K. announces that he, and anyone else his father once knew, will not be participating in any service for a “queer drug addict.” Furious at his father, Neil decides that he is no longer worth it, and cancels his trip to London.
Fearful of abandonment, he turns on Kate, and she leaves him to cope with his misery alone. He realizes that he cannot let his anger at his father continue to define him, so he tries to heal the relationship with Kate. She accepts his overtures, mostly because Neil's experience showed her that she needed to reconcile with her own father. She won't come with Neil to England, but wishes him well.
Alone with his father’s ashes, he heads to the church in England. Neil is the only one present at the service. When he heads outside with the vicar, Neil is stunned to find Kate waiting for him. Together, they inter his father, with a promise to look forward, not back.