Tuesday, March 28, 2017 | By: BlackGargie

Another Death in the Family... (Part 4)

Continue from Part 3...

Last Tuesday was the official funeral. All of us had to wake up really early to help out with the moving of the coffin and stuff. We all had to be dressed in ceremonial colours, so it had to be white top and black bottom, although the kids can be a little lenient on the bottom.

Took us a while to look for it, and at the ladies section, there was absolutely no chance of finding a plain white no-print shirt around, so I had no choice to shop at the men's section, where we finally found it, and just at my size too (I wear L or XL for the women's clothing, since I'm a bit on the plus side, so I have to go for either M or L for the men's measurement). The shirt was a little translucent, and body-fitting, but nothing another white shirt underneath wouldn't fix.

Anyway, we had to wake up real early on the day itself to get the kids all dressed up, help to move the coffin into the church van, grab a quick breakfast and all that. Arrived at the church just in time to usher people in to their seats. Lots of people came, well, lots of those who are immediate family, anyways. My hub's extended family was pretty big, so yeah, quite a bit of a turn out.

My two buddies showed up as well to pay their respects after I told them on the day of grandma in law's death, mainly because my gal pal's parents are sort of acquaintance/friends with my in-laws, and my lunch buddy's mom is friends with the family and that he is related to me by marriage since his cousin married my hub's cousin, but I digress.

I'm not Catholic, so I don't know much about how Catholic funerals and processions go, but I wasn't surprised that a lot of reciting through their cookie-cutter booklet was involved. It seems that they have a standard ritual and phrases and reciting and hymn songs to sing for a Catholic funeral and they have that all in their PC, all they needed was to change the name of the deceased and print it out tout suite. Like I said, cookie-cutter and all script-based.

I remember when my grandpa passed away, my aunts and my grandma and my mom had a really huge heated debate, or argument, to be more precise, about how to go about my grandpa's funeral. My grandma wanted to honour the Chinese tradition and do a Chinese style funeral where it's the usual open casket, pay respects then cremation kind of thing, but my radically religious born-again aunts wanted to have a Christian funeral with burial and all that church ceremonial jazz, coz having a shrine and keeping the ashes, to them, is idol-worshipping, which clashes with one of the Ten Commandments, and of course, my mom would prefer to take my grandma's side coz she's not as insane as my aunts. In the end, they decided to compromise and do both: the Christian ceremony in the church with the prayer rituals and blessings and last rites, and then to the crematorium where people pay their last respects through open casket and then head off to cremate and keep his ashes.

During my grandpa's funeral (I'm Protestant btw), there was no booklet involved, all were straight reading from the Bible and tons of prayers involved, slightly spontaneous in nature. And unlike the colour code we were wearing (prolly a Foochow tradition), we could wear anything we like as long as it's dark coloured, but the moment we entered the church, we had to don the huge black church robes with a colour tag on our sleeve to show ranking in the family. I couldn't remember what was the colour of my ranking as grandchild. Prolly blue.

There were plenty of tears involved of course during the funeral, mostly the old timer elderly who were closer of age to grandma in law and knew her all their lifetime. Some of the younger ones or same age peers as us also cried, but my mom in law definitely was the one who cried the hardest as we paid our final respects to her open casket and thanked the people for coming over to attend the funeral.

Unfortunately I was the only one unable to follow the procession for the grave send off bcoz of Angel. The weather was not too good (a bit on the rainy side), and in our customs, babies are not exactly allowed to attend. Something to do with not wanting a child so young exposed to the spirit world, I guess. I felt bad for being the only one not attending the burial, but gotta respect my heritage customs.

Technically I was informed beforehand the night before that I won't be able to follow the grave send off procession and that I have to follow one of our neighbours who are not going for the grave send off as well and hitch a ride with them home. I originally planned to maybe meet up with my buddies at the end of the funeral service and hang out with them for breakfast or something before going home, but they hightailed outta there before I could even say hi to them. So yeah, cue the awkward silence and occasional obligatory small talk while in the car with my neighbour until I got home.

Days leading up to the funeral, there had been church members and some family members coming over to pay their respects as well as join in for the vigil prayer. After funeral was over and done with, there were the last few days of the prayer rites post-funeral, so to accommodate them, dad in law hired in catering for them to eat for almost a week. We had awesome food for a whole week, though because I need to keep my girls in company and in line, I skipped the prayer rites and let my hubs go on behalf of us. Anyways, like I said, I'm not Catholic anyways.

That all said, the home just felt a little slightly lonelier with grandma in law gone now. No more screaming and nagging from her to "keep it down in there", no more obsessive gate-closing and door-peeking or lock-testing (grandma in law was born at a bad part of town where crime was rampant, so yeah, she brought her paranoia here to Brunei), no more hearing the sound of her cane clicking on the floor, no more hearing her shuffling from her room to the bathroom every 2 hours in the middle of the night, no more absentminded questions and constantly asking the same question every 5-10 seconds because of her goldfish memories... Yeah, annoying little things, but still part of our life that we may never experience anymore.

Let's hope things will be back to normal after this, or maybe start a new normal.

RIP, Grandma in law. You will be missed.


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