On death & dying, in the funeral home, translated…
On day, an Indonesian Woman Took Her Mother in, But, No Matter How We’d, Checked & Crosschecked the References from Taiwan, We Can’t See, that They are, Mother & Daughter………
That Column of “Spouse”, Left Blank
One day, the owner of a funeral home took an elderly person’s copy of identification, and left it on the desk at the office the moment he’d, walked in.
We looked at the identification, asked, “is the person, coming in soon?”
The owner said, “no, not the man, but his wife, she’s, almost, gone.”
I looked at the identification, there’s nothing on the spousal column, it’d been, left, blank, could it be, someone who’s, just like me, who’d imagined he had a wife, and, the air was, almost, out of, his air-filled dolls? As I thought, I’d, felt empathy, looking at that identification card, I’d felt, closer, and, it didn’t, look like that eyesore that it had become to me.
The owner looked at my face, knew that I wasn’t, thinking straight, said, “He’d been with a divorced woman a long time, they’re both, getting older, with no need to get married again, and, twenty years had, come and gone. Now, the woman is dying, and the man wanted to know, if you can, help take care of the final affairs?”
We’d first inquired, “are they, cohabiting partners?”
The man said, “nope, they are registered separately.”
Then, we’d inquired, “Would they need to set up separate wills?”
The owner shook his head, “They don’t have enough money for that!”
We’d sighed, “then, we can only, ask the social services to sort it all through”.
The owner smiled bitterly, “the elderly just thought, they’d been together so long, they should, help each other with one another’s, final affairs.”
illustration from UDN.com
The woman who was, sweeping up the floors close by said, “Then…how about, marrying one another?”
The few of us were, lost in thought: one of them is in the eighties, and, the other one, about, to get, sent in here too, and, this marriage would be………
The owner smiled bitterly, “I’ll go and ask them.”
About a week later, the owner took an elder into the funeral home, to set the affairs up, the elderly took out his identification, it looked, familiar, I’d, flipped it over, there’s a name on the spouse column now, and the elderly said firmly, “I want to, check my wife in”.
This elderly looked like he was from the lower end of the socioeconomic statuses, leaving the final affairs to the social services, it would surely, help him save up on a lot, and, is, “status”, really, that important?
The Woman Who Wheeled My Mother in
One day, an Indonesian woman sent in her mother, but, we’d, read the paperwork, and just, couldn’t believe, that they were, mother, and daughter at all.
The woman said, back then, it was her aunt who’d, married to Taiwan first, so she could, come over here too, she’d, used some measures, and, managed to have the mother’s name become her aunt’s, and her birthmother, she’d, called her “aunt” instead.
Waited until she’d started living stably here, she’d, moved her mother over to Taiwan to live, and, within a few short months, her own mother tripped, fell, and died.
As I heard this story, although I felt bad for her, but, aunt is aunt is aunt is aunt, and, we’d, slashed the services for those from other countries, that only the blood relatives can be taken care of. We’d, told her the situations, as she’d heard, she’d, waved to us, said, “the cost is nothing, I want to know, can I, help her sort through her final affairs as her daughter?”
We’d thought a bit, consoled her, to go back to Indonesia to try to get the status changed, but, it’d been, a very long time since she’d, changed her information, and, the costs of the funeral would not be, something small.
She’d thought for a bit, and we could tell, she was, really, distraught.
In the end, other than registering her mother as her “aunt” and her being the “niece” of the deceased, she’d, used their real status, but, as the funeral processions happened, she’d started, wailing in front of her own mother’s coffin, cried on how she wasn’t fitting as a daughter, not being able to, give her own mother, a rightful status when she’d died.
Sometimes I’d wondered, so long, as she’d, treated her aunt like a mother in her heart, took care of her, like her real daughter would, would it be important, that the status of “mother” is, specified?
That Most Unforgettable Household Registry
On yet, another day, came, a man, there was a lady who’d, cried so hard outside, actually, this wasn’t, any sort of a big deal, for the death of a spouse, we’d thought, that it would be rarer, if the person doesn’t cry at all.
And yet, this man’s body was only, accompanied by this one woman in his family, and she’d told us, that she’ll, give us the paperwork of their relations later on.
And, as we’re, about to, place him in the ice bins, the woman asked, “can I, say some final words to him?”, we’d nodded.
She’d bent down, patted the man’s head, “Honey, this, is the very first time I called you honey, it’s also, the last, you need to take care of yourself on the other side. Thank you for looking after me so long. You and your older brother, are, the most perfect men I’d ever met in this life, I love you………”
She’d, started, crying like HELL at the icebins, but, as she’d, walked away, she’d, become, very strong.
At this time, the proof of relationships came.
This had happened a long, long time ago, but sometimes, I’d still, gotten reminded of that household registry, with only TWO people registered, the relationship being brother and sister-in-law.
Sometimes, I’d thought, “status”, didn’t seem, so important at times like these.
And so, for the sake of paperwork, you’d, needed to, prove your relationships to the deceased and sometimes, it’s, more complicated than that, because, the two of you may have, related to each other as a husband and wife, but, you’re, actually not, you might be related, in other ways, and yet, the system mandated that we need to proof our status, who we are, in relations, to one another, to have our, loved ones, properly, buried.