Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Funeral (and wake)

Andy, Antonio and i were late leaving for the funeral. The night before we had rushed home from the Rosary and Mass because of illness. I wasn't sure i was feeling up for going to the Funeral, and was almost sure that Andy wouldn't be going. She surprised me by saying she felt better, and was up for driving down with me. By the time all this was worked out, i didn't think we had time to make it to the funeral home before the procession left for the the cemetary. Fortunately, i know where it is, having been there for four funerals and numerous visits on various birthdays of the departed.

We made it there, Andy driving because it was my turn to be ill and because i was growing more distraught as the morning went on. We arrived before the procession, by about ten or fifteen minutes, and followed along with them to the mausoleum. My grandfather surprised me by wanting to be put in the armário (cabinet) rather than be buried in the earth.

This funeral was like the other four i had been to at this cemetary. All the usual suspects of my extended family. People i saw, at most, once a year. Sometimes once every five years. People who i recognized but i could not name. Some people who i couldn't even recognize, but who still seemed familiar. Cousins and their families and friends of the family. My grandfather's only living brother was there, of course. Another of the brothers, Joe, died within the last few months, and i wonder if David is going to depart soon as well.

Having Antonio there to run around and be rambunctious saved me from complete despair, and i think helped my father and grandmother as well. The priest was quite supportive of the little whirlwind of life running around as he gave his talk. The service was quite short, i think at the request of my family. It seemed like it was done within five minutes of people being seated, and when the priest said "this concludes the services" i think most of those in attendance were a little shell-shocked.

The entombment was meant to be close family only, but of course everyone else hung around for it. I don't think they meant to be rude, but they certainly didn't pick up on the hint that it wasn't generally announced, and the priest said "you can go home now," and that the close family were individually asked to walk to the armário. The crowd moved together and watched as they put the coffin into its place. I watched Antonio run around and yell at things in the morning sun.

After the casket was in place, the workman started putting in the mortarboard and caulking, and it seemed like enough was enough. People started trickling away to the plaza outside the mausoleum, where people lingered and consoled the grieving for what seemed like a long time in relation to the ceremony itself, but was in reality just ten or fifteen minutes. I re-acquainted myself with a man i met when i was a boy, when i went fishing with my grandfather. He was a young man, possibly a teenager, at the time, and didn't speak that much english. I didn't recognize him at first, but seeing him reminded me of that fishing trip, and i was glad he was there.

We had planned on going home directly after exchanging things with my mom, because we didn't want to get people sick at my grandmother's house, but we ended up staying. I'm not sure why, exactly, and we didn't talk about it. We just ended up staying. Despite having not announced a wake of any kind, much of the extended family arrived, with food and drink, and stayed into the evening. The grandkids all stayed in a separate room, with Andy (and sometimes Antonio). I don't think we wanted to be around a lot of people, so we left that for our parents. I'm sure i dozed off in the chair i sat in... and i know i just stared off into space most of the time i was awake. I've been doing that a lot since then, too.

I feel like an outsider to that family, like i feel in most social settings... i don't really understand the customs and i don't speak the language, and really don't hold a lot of the same views of life. I feel like my dad is much the same, but he's allowed because he's a rebellious musician. I wonder if my grandfather ever felt that way, if it's something that runs in the family. In any case, when we left, i felt like one more large family event had gone by and that i hadn't done the proper thing by them.

I drove us home, as Andy had taken ill again, and contemplated going to work the next day.

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