Wow, thanks for all the fast replies!!
I've had a few ideas too. I got looking underneath at the grates themselves and noticed they have pill shaped holes about 3/4 inch long and about 3/8 inch wide running down the center of them. Seems like if I had a bar with a 90 degree bend with an end that would fit into one of those pill shaped holes in the center, I should be able to rock them. That said, I found a piece of angle brace and pounded it into a tool to attempt this. I wasn't successful in actually rocking the grates BUT I did discover that I could push and pull on the grates, giving them a "horizontal shake", and was able to get ash to fall. It takes a brute amount of strength. I was a sweaty mess in a matter of a few minutes lol and I'm sure its something my wife won't be able to do. It may get me by until I attempt a better remedy or replacement.
Must be a design flaw, seems like they should have used something bigger to put that handle on instead of a 1/2 inch cast iron nipple
Thanks again for all the great ideas!!