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.