Such a huge life event as the death of a parent is massively draining, to say the least. I’m glad I took the hiatus because trying to get back to “normal” life — you know, like going to work, going to the gym, cleaning, etc — is exhausting. After my first day back at work, even though my boss made sure to have someone work alongside me on the shift I normally do by myself, I was so exhausted I fell asleep while watching Psych — and I love that show!
Anyway, I have a few observations about wakes and funerals that I was unfamiliar with until now. This, of course, was my first major death in my family. Seriously, when I think about it, my mom was way too young. I have a lot of regrets and I’ve been praying every day that I be forgiven. But that’s not up to me, so here are some of the observations
Funeral = Family: Wow, I haven’t seen my family on either side of my parents’ sides in years — possibly a decade. From Myspace, I knew a lot of them had gotten married, and I even helped decorate the wedding of a second cousin — but knowing and seeing is two entirely different things. Plus, all those cousins who have gotten married — all of them have kids! In fact, four of my cousins were pregnant, two of whom are ready to pop. Wow. So of course, with all this marrying and getting pregnant, with all these extended family members meeting Trinity for the first time (except two cousins, who both went to Charter Oak High School with him, one of whom worked for Trin at Blockbuster when he was a supervisor) came the inevitable questions: “Oh, you’re married? Do you have kids? When are you going to have kids???” Oy.
Filipino funeral tradition: At the actual funeral, the director asked if there were any special traditions we wanted to incorporate, adding that he knows that Filipinos have a tradition of passing any babies present over the open grave. What?! Really? Apparently, he was right, because my cousin Paulette passed her son Paolo over my mom’s grave to her brother as people laid flowers on my mom’s casket. I can’t find anything online on this subject, so if anyone can chime in on why and where this tradition came from, I’d be much obliged.
Bereavement money: I can’t find anything really online about this, except this slightly clueless Q&A that barely answers the question. During the two days of the wake and the funeral, my mom’s old friends came out of the woodwork and handed my sisters and I thick cards, kind of similar to the scene in Goodfellas, when Henry and his wife gets card after card from well-wishers that are choked full of cash. I at first thought they were simply cards of condolence, but my sister’s childhood friend took each one for safekeeping and for later thank-you cards. Then I got a card from my friend Iliki that had a check made out to cash in it. I was shocked, mostly because I didn’t expect it, but also because Iliki and her husband Mel shouldn’t really have given us anything, especially since they helped us out so much when it came to printing out blown-up pictures on extremely short notice. We had to go to her house later and to pick up a projection screen and I blurted out, “why did you give us money?!” She laughed at me and explained that its a tradition called bereavement money, to help the family with associated costs of having a funeral. I wanted to give it back, but I have to admit the extra cash came in handy when Trin and I spent another hour or so at Kinko’s preparing and blowing up more pictures for another frame later that night.
Honestly? I’m just glad that I didn’t get hit on this time around. Seriously, I was with my mom at a wake at Rose Hills once, and I got hit on as I did my homework. Maybe I’m just past that age, but then maybe its also the fact I had Trinity with me the whole time.