The one day of the week I don’t do much work is Sunday. Saturday used to be the day I relaxed, but I was missing posting my stories on Fridays on Medium (I’m a day ahead). Sunday seems to be better anyway because we generally stay close to the house and spend time with family.
Yesterday was a bit different. After three weeks in state at her home, my wife’s Tita (aunt) finally had her funeral. I talked about the three weeks leading up to this day here:
The people here in the Philippines make quite a big deal about death. Part of the reason is the Catholic religion. Part is because of the superstitions they observe.
I’ve never made a big deal of death because I’ve not dealt with it much in my life. So yesterday was new to me.
The Family Funeral
We got up early. I was told I didn’t have to dress up. My wife said shorts and a t-shirt were fine. I dressed, and we drove to the inlaws house. When we got there, I noticed everyone else was wearing pants and a nice white shirt. That is, except for the children, who wore red (another superstition).
I was in all black, white legs poking out and announcing my presence wherever I went.
Everyone was running late, which I dislike because I am a very punctual person. I’ve noticed in the Philippines that they run on their own time. I sat on the couch and waited until it was time to go.
We arrived at the enormous church after Mass started, and filed into the last two rows of seats. The priest was saying something in Hiligaynon and Latin, both of which I don’t understand. I knew to stand when everyone else would rise to their feet. When they kneeled on the cushioned board on the floor, I sat in a quiet, respectful way.
I noticed that people were walking up and taking pictures with the casket. I hoped I wouldn’t have to because I felt so underdressed. My wife assured me I could sit when the family went up, so I was happy.
Soon, one of the aunts came and asked us all to come up and take a picture. I said I would stay, but they insisted. My wife said they want me in the picture because I’m family and somewhat of a family good luck charm to some of them. I don’t like having attention on me at all, but I know how important family events are, so I took the picture.
It was Mass, but when a few stood the receive the bread, I stayed in my seat. I didn’t see anyone drink the wine but found out later that only the priest received the blood of Christ.
I’m not religious, and all this seemed quite unnecessary to me. But, as I sat and listened to the prayers, I felt serene.
The church was beautiful, and it was quiet. The huge wooden doors stood wide open, and there was a cool breeze coming through. Birds flew near the ceiling, and I closed my eyes and listened to the Latin prayers and the warbling of the birds.
It was over soon, and we took all the children and got in the car for the procession. I didn’t want Flora to walk all the way because she is pregnant. Yes, I am a little overprotective, but that’s how I am.
We couldn’t find a safe place to park by the cemetery, so my wife didn’t watch them put Tita in her crypt. We drove back to the church and waited for the rest of the family.
Everybody was going back to Tita’s house for food. When we arrived, there was a ton of people already there. Looking over the crowd, I was sure that most of them only came to eat.
But, it was a tradition.
After eating, we all went back to the house so everyone could change. One of the local superstitions is that after a funeral, you have to change every shred of clothing. I guess it’s to get rid of the negative energy.
We ended up at my house. We ate Pancit Molo and drank Red Horse beer. As usual, when I get together with my brother-in-law Rodel, I drank too much.
But it was an enjoyable day, mostly because we don’t own a television and everyone talked instead. I noticed no one was staring at their phones either, which was nice.
We talked about superstitions, Filipino culture, growing up, and even the Marvel universe. By the end of the day, Del and I were outside finishing up the last of the beer. I was quite drunk by this time and ready for a nap.
Everybody went home, and I got in bed. I ended up sleeping all night, but it was rough. One of the reasons I rarely drink is because I get horrible headaches and heartburn.
The good luck charm
I woke up nauseated, but after coffee, I was feeling much better. Flora and I sat at the table and talked. I love when we get into deep discussions because, for most of the week, we are working.
She talked about how I helped get her family back together. She also told me that some look at me as a good luck charm because quite a few good things have happened since I arrived.
I hope they know how I feel about them as well. I miss my family in the States, but having so much family here makes it worthwhile. I am accepted as a big part of this family, and they all give me more attention and love than I will ever need.
The family is one of the most important things in life.
If I am their good luck charm, they are mine!