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Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

For some odd reason, Sweetie and my visits to California often seem to coincide with funerals. Most of the time we don’t plan it that way. Long long ago I once flew back to California just to attend a funeral. I hate to say I couldn’t afford to do that these days. But. I don’t think I can afford to do that these days unless I really need to.

A year ago Sweetie and I were able to attend his mom’s cousin’s funeral. We were here in July when we learned that a good friend of his family had died and attended that funeral with his mom, sister and (our new) bro-in-law. I was able to attend another aunt’s funeral – was it two years ago…. or last year?? Wow, I can’t remember. I also attended the funeral of one of my dad’s best friends while visiting California.

Big Sis, Mom and I just attended a funeral yesterday. We learned that my last aunt on my father’s side died. For Big Sis and me, all of our aunts and uncles are now gone on my dad’s side of the family. For our cousins, our mom is the only Auntie left. I stood next to my cousin C. yesterday and asked her – Do you realize that, other than mom, we are now the “elder” generation? She told me that, yes – she had actually thought of that herself. What a generation shift! It doesn’t seem that long ago that Big Sis and I were running through my eldest aunt’s house at Christmas, chasing our cousins’ kids and waiting for that perfect present from Uncle H. Now, one of my cousins is a grandfather and another one just sent his son off for his second year of college. My father’s parents had six children. Out of those six came only seven grandchildren. I am the youngest of the seven and haven’t even had my own kids yet, for heaven’s sake! But here we are. The next line of the family. Six of us were at the funeral yesterday. Somehow we seem to keep meeting up at funerals. We hug and catch up on new jobs, retirements, vacation, kids, grandkids, and surgeries.

There are few people I know who would say they enjoy attending funerals. However, given the death of a family member or good friend, I am glad for the times when I can pay my respects in person. Many people would say that funerals are not so much for the dead as for the living. I think it’s true to the extent that a lot of people need that odd ceremony to feel like they have said “goodbye.” For me, I needed my dad’s funeral to tell people a little about his life. And to thank those who came for being in his life. No, I don’t like funerals. But I value them. I’m not sure why I seem to time my trips with them, but I think I appreciate the cosmic calendar that allows me to attend as many as I can.

Now, if I could just avoid another one for a long stretch of time, I’d be happy.

By the way, Father Damien was canonized in Rome today. Kind of a big deal in Hawai’i.

http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/524658.html?nav=10

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Taps

I went to a funeral yesterday with Mom, Big Sis, and my aunt. Sorry to say that one of my father’s oldest friends died a little while ago. “Uncle” Bill was my dad’s friend when Dad first dated Mom. Story goes – he was the friend enlisted to keep my aunt company so my dad could make the moves on Mom. He celebrated their wedding and stood by my dad’s side. I remember visiting him and his family when I was a kid – shivering in the pool with Big Sis and Uncle Bill’s two sons waiting for pictures to be taken, playing my first computer games on their Atari computer, learning how to play Chinese jump rope before it became popular on my own playground back home.

Last time Mom and I had dinner with him late last year, mom mentioned how much weight Uncle Bill had lost. That was when we realized he was waging his own cancer battle, just a few months after Dad’s death. Though – come to think of it, it probably started when Dad was still alive. But a battle against pancreatic cancer is tough to fight, and it was not to be won. But standing at the funeral, listening to his son and his friends speak, it sounded like Uncle Bill kept his spirits lifted and his outlook real during the last few months.

Uncle Bill was a veteran, and they played Taps at the funeral service. Every time I hear it, I think of my own uncle’s funeral – my dad’s brother who died a few years ago. It was a strikingly poignant moment in his funeral – to hear that lonely trumpet call. To hear the somber notes. To know that, truly, my uncle’s long day was done. And it just seemed so respectful, to me. To hear it. Don’t know why. But man, did that strike a weeping chord in me.

Wikipedia says that there are no official lyrics to Taps. But here is the most common form of the lyrics that have been used over the years. Farewell, Uncle Bill.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar drawing nigh,
Falls the night.Day is done, gone the sun
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.

Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, goodnight.

 

 

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A tribute to Moms

Did you ever see the film “Mother?”  If you have, did you love that classic food scene as much as I did? Isn’t that the most typical Mom behavior?  Must…feed…children.  Doesn’t matter how old the child – Moms have this instinctive need to feed you.  From the big block of cheese to the “protective covering” of freezer burn on the ice cream, that scene in Mother is one of my favorites!  It cracks me up because it is so true. 

It reminds me of similar scenes I’ve lived with one of my best friend’s mothers.  Mama T always tried to feed me. And feed people she could! But there was one time where my friend and I had gone out to eat with friends and when we got back to the house, Mama T was aflutter with excitement at the thought of feeding us.  She delightedly showed us the steaks she had taken out of the freezer to fix for us. We tried to tell her we were not hungry. But she talked up her steaks. We insisted we were not hungry. But she talked up her steaks. We finally had to admit that we had already eaten out and were honestly too full to eat a gigantic steak each. I think she fed both of them to my good friend after I left! 

Mama T was always looking out for me, making sure I was comfortable in her home, making me welcome, and checking in on me. And not just me – though her daughter and I have been friends since we were five years old.  New friends and old friends alike, once you were in her home, you would be mothered.  She always wanted to see and believe the best in people, and by seeing the good in people, she treated you with kindness and respect and care. 

I am very lucky that I have good friends whose parents are so open and supportive of their extended families.  Mama T just happened to be the one who was in my life the longest.  She passed away a week ago, and I feel like a little part of my childhood left with her.  I could go back to my old hometown, and see her, and feel like I still belonged there (my parents moved away several years ago).  I could look forward to being pampered and scolded all day with her love and her no-nonsense common sense. For all that, I know her family will miss her very much.  But I hope they are comforted, as I am, with some hilarious memories and the warm-blanket feeling you get when you remember someone who truly cared for you. Moms are very very good at that.

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