the week after

Sunday, July 25, 2004

There's been a semblance of normalcy in the family since yesterday when my uncle's remains were cremated. After a week of grieving, I think his family has accepted he's gone, though I know the pain of his passing will still be felt.

Thank you to everyone for your condolences and prayers. :)

It's ironic that it took a funeral for family and friends to have a reunion. Yet it also shows how loved a person was when he was alive. My uncle was a man of few words, pero pag humirit sha, matatawa ka talaga. Everyone who spoke at his funeral mentioned that he always has a ready smile to anyone, I think that's one of the things about him most of us will miss.

I was the 4th grandchild, all 3 before me were his children, so I spent most of my preschoool days at their house and I remember how patient he was with us. I also called him tatay like my cousins (gaya-gaya kasi ako :p) and all the cousins after me called him that, too.

I can only imagine how painful it is for my aunt to lose her husband of 38 years, especially since his birthday is 3 weeks away. Or how my cousins would miss their father and my little nephews and niece would grow up without their lolo. I know it gave them comfort though how family and friends gave them support during this time in their lives. And it also gives them comfort that he is now in a better place with the Lord.

My cousins and I were at the wake almost every night. Handang-handa kami maglamay coz we brought along books, board games, playing cards, and drank lots of brewed coffee (hehehe.. actually yung funeral home, amoy coffee place). We went home at 6am, slept most of the day, then returned in the afternoons for another night of endless coffee and conversations. On the last night, my brother, our cousin Lon and our cousin-in-law Rochelle, took turns playing the guitar as we sang along, in one corner of the room. We joked that we were having an "acoustic wake session". It didn't feel like we were in a funeral, though we never forgot why we all were there. I asked one of my aunts if it was appropriate, and she said it was all right, and that if Tatay was there, he'd give us his famous smile.

My nephew Gian & my niece Hannah, 5 & 4 respectively, obviously do not grasp the concept of death yet, but they brought smiles and laughter during the wake. My cousin Caloy said that when they arrived home from the hospital, they told his son Gian that "...nasa taas na si tatay" (my cousin meant to say Tatay was already in heaven). His son then got up and went upstairs looking for his lolo. When he came down he said, "wala naman sa taas si tatay eh."

Then, during the first night of the funeral, Hannah and Gian were running around the funreal parlor. I called them and we went to the room to change their clothes. I told them not to be so noisy coz their lolo might get angry. Hannah asked me, "bakit ninang Jennie, mabubuhay uli si lolo?"

ONe night Hannah asked me to carry her coz she wanted to see her lolo. After a while she said, "Ninang Jennie, gusto ko bigyan ng flowers si lolo." So I put her down as she picked a flower from one of the flower baskets. She then placed the flower on top of the casket, tiptoed and leaned closer and whispered, "Lolo, binigyan kita ng flower, gising ka na." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I heard her say that.

On the second night of the wake, Hannah and Gian were running around, my cousins and I seated on one side of the room, when the lights went out. Everyone just stayed where they were, while we were telling the kids not to run around until we get candles or until the lights turn back on. Gian then said, "Anjan na si lolo." and I could hear a smile in his voice. hehehe... nakakatakot na nakakatawa diba? :p

Straight from the mouths of babes.