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John's Blog

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day....Teach him to use the internet and he won't bother you for weeks!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

With the occasional exception of a ranting political diatribe, I seldom delve into the more serious stuff here. In part, it's because there are some folks IRL who sometimes check the 'ol blog, so I just keep the unfiltered, candid stuff as mumbled observations around the office. But let's not minimize my innate laziness as well as my inability to be emotionally open, honest and express myself clearly as factors contributing to my self-sensorship.

My last post was one of those exceptions, and even then I wasn't ready for the candor it deserved, and it wound up as just cryptic venting. After seeing a loved ones' family member pass away, it's hardly the time for blogging. Having cared for my wife's mother in our home for the last three months, we were mentally prepared for her passing (or so we thought) but when she took a turn for the worst and left us quicker than expected, we found out that you're never ready for it emotionally. Still, after several days to wrap ourselves around things, it feels so very odd that she's not down the hall anymore.

I won't trivialize the event by eulogizing her here, since that isn't something she would have been comfortable with, nor could I do it justice. Suffice it to say that a life well lived is its' own reward, even if the path runs shorter than we had hoped for. Those of us whose lives she touched will remember the good times, and the lessons she taught us.

Although the funeral arrangements had largely been predetermined, there were of course last minute details to be ironed out. Once these were done, my wife went about the task of calling friends of her mother who had expressed interest in attending. Many of these were friends from a Chinese social club that she had belonged to for some time. Little did we know that our education in Chinese funeral traditions had yet to begin. When we offered to drop off directions for one of the "aunties" from the club, she recoiled in horror, since we had momentarily forgotten the traditional prohibition that members of the family of the deceased can't visit your house for the next 30 days, lest you bring bad spirits and bad luck with you.

There are enough traditions and superstitions involved that your head would explode if you tried to follow all of them. Many of them reflect Buddhist traditions, and since she was raised as a Catholic, would not have been part of our arrangements. But one that the "aunties" suggested seemed reasonable, and contained some interesting symbolism, so we wound up including it. Everyone attending was given a package called Bak Gum, which translates as "white gold" and symbolizes a gift from the deceased. It consists of a piece of candy along with a wrapped coin. The candy is to be eaten afterwards to sweeten the memory of the event. The coin is to be spent on something that brings happiness to offset the solemn occasion. If you're gonna be selective about traditions, this seemed like a darned good one to include, honoring both the deceased and ancestral values.
|| JM, 7:24 AM

3 Comments:

My deepest sympathy. I've had you in my thoughts.
That is a really lovely tradition and nice of you to include. I'm sure the gesture was appreciated.My mother always said (and I don't necessarily agree) is for not for the deceased but the ones that have lost this person in their lives. In that regard I guess its important to include a something for everyone.
Blogger Mary, at 10:44 AM  
I'm so sorry for your lose. What a tribute to her life that her daughter and son-in-law happily took care of her and that she will be missed.

My family situation is rather the opposite and I never blog about it due to family members who lurk on UA. Eventually I will delivered from this situation. I'm sure I will post some obscure message of joy. Stay tuned and until then...

You have my deepest condolences.
Blogger Liz, at 4:41 PM  
My sincerest condolences. Also my highest respect for caring for her in her final days, and making her limited time left on Earth comfortable, and full of support.

A big kudo to you for seeing that the burial traditions were adhered to. I find the rites of other (non-Christian) religions absolutely fascinating, and I think it's great that it's one thing from the "old world" that isn't fading away in the modern world.

When attending services that are new to me, I do try to educate myself beforehand - especially since my mother broke so many of the "no-no's" of Jewish funerals when my cousin passed. It was like a domino effect. Honestly though, he'd have probably gotten a kick out of it.

I'm sure that she's looking down, and happy that you took care of things so well on her behalf.
Blogger Funky-Rat (a/k/a Railyn), at 1:29 PM  

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