Tag Archives: Final Rites

Final Rites

How she wanted it done, the belief of this, elderly woman…translated…

I don’t live with my mother, but, her registry is with my home, and as I received the notices for the elderly population to get vaccinated, I’d immediately called her up.  But my mother started, leisurely telling me how she wanted her final affairs to go, as I clenched onto the phones, I’d felt, sorrowful, and started, crying.

My mother told, that all her three children are all grown and married, with six grandchildren, that she was, more than satisfied with her time here on earth in this life, that she had, no regrets, and told me a list of possible symptoms of the vaccination, that if she’d died, it shall be fate’s doing!

From before, the subject of death was tabooed between us mother and daughter, actually, I’d wanted to, discuss this matter with my mother, like how she’d planned to have her funeral set up?  But as the words about to flowed out, I’d, taken a deep inhale and take it all back in, worried that it might be, bad luck, mentioning it, that these, unlucky things, we should, avoid from, discussing.

illustration from UDN.com

圖/林蔡鴻

But because of the Astra-Zeneca vaccinations this time, my mother struck up this conversation about death, and told that if she’d died, it would be, just as well, at least, she’d not had any illness, no need to get tortured by a progressive condition, that in the end, we all, must, go; she’d told us to not feel sad in the end, and reminded me, “after I die, don’t take the money offerings from the white envelopes.”

Awhile ago, I’d heard my older brother carefully prodded my mother, “if many, many years from now, when you depart, how would you want your funeral to go?  Do you want it to have a ton of people coming, to see you off?  Or, would you prefer it simpler, to not bother others?  How much paper money offerings should we make?  What sort of music do you want played?  Do you want us to give you a mansion made with paper?”, my mother’s replies back to my older brother was, “Whatever you want!”, but added, “after I’m gone, do NOT take the money in the white envelopes from people”, she was, so steady in her tone of voice, even right now.

My mother married at twenty-two lost my father at age forty-nine.  My parents were the description of “couple living in poverty”, but not to the point of them, living miserably through their lives, mostly, they’d gotten upset over some minor things, argued on the unimportant matters of their lives; but, they’d, spatted over how much money to give to the weddings and funerals for over two decades’ time.

Since I could recall, several times I’d stayed hidden at the corners of the walls of my home, watched my mother cried as she’d fought with my father; several times, I’d, hidden myself underneath the covers, with my father’s loud voice getting into my ears.  My parents argued unstop, my father insisted on putting the same amount like the rest of our relatives, worried that if he’d given less, then, it wouldn’t, be right; while my mother worried that if he’d put the extra amounts in, she wouldn’t have enough for the groceries, that it would affect our livelihoods, and the arguments passed between the two of them constantly.  And finally, they’d, patched things up and after a while, the wedding notices, the funeral notices came, and, like a bomb, it’d, blew up in our faces again, they started back up arguing again, and they’d even, brought out the old matters from before too, and gotten at each other’s, throats.

Toward the sudden-coming wedding and funeral notices, it’d worried my mother so, sometimes, she’d, taken out the loans, sometimes, she’d, followed the groups, mixed, matched.  And the points in her memories of receiving the funeral and wedding notices, stayed, clear in my mother’s, mind.  Even as she’s an elderly person, she’s still, stressed about this matter.  And now, as the outbreaks occurred, she’d brought up the discussion of her final affairs, how she wanted it handled that she’d never done before with us, and told us, to NOT take the money offerings from the white envelopes, to cause trials in others’, lives.  On my end of the line, I’d, started crying, reason being I’d felt a ton of emotions, and the memories came back, one of the points was how I’d felt moved by my mother’s gentle heart—how she is able to empathize, to use her own personal experiences to understand the trials of others in life.

what her mother didn’t want…

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photo from online

Mom, I shall remember your words, and, as I grow older, I want to do just like you, on my funerals many, many, many years from now, I won’t be, taking any money for condolences either.

And so, this, is this older generation’s considerations of others, because the elder grew up in trying times, in poverty, and lived through how it was when the family didn’t have enough to get by, and she’d, gained that empathy toward others because of it, and, she’d, passed the values down to her own children too.

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Farewell

The thoughtfulness of your mother, for setting UP her own, final affairs, as she knew you would have, more than enough on your plates, when she passes away, translated…

I want the Chinese traditional dress from Longdee!  Don’t forget it”.  My mother told me, with careful thought.  I’d watched T.V., with no mind on her, ranting.  I’d come home once in a long, long, long while, and you feared that I might forget, and so, you’d, reminded me, again, and again, of the after-death, how you wanted the white flowers at your funeral, the photo, the one of you as the head chair of the society, to select the traditional Chinese dress at the mall counters, let alone, you’d already, bought a slot for your urn already.  I’d always thought you worried too much, you’d only begun to use insulin to keep your diabetes under control.

Then, the wound from the skin peel off of your toes, left you scared for more than a year, you’d no longer dared to walk, not to mention, head outside.

“I’d not accounted for the cost of the hired nurse yet,” you’d sighed.

“We’ll pay for it, then, sell off that smallest house, you already own so many properties already!”

“No, that one’s for you!”

I can’t understand you.

“You’re already, immobilized, make yourself more comfortable, that’s, the task now!  Take a cab when you go out, don’t save up on this, go visit with your girlfriends, it’s way better than staying cramped up at home!”

Your health deteriorates by the day.  The first time you got lifted to the E.R., you’d ushered my younger brother to send out your DNR.  Your dialysis left the accumulation of fluids in your systems, you’d insisted not going to the hospital, said that in a few days, you will be like the elderly woman next door, die on her own, at home, I’d begged you, who was clearly, in a whole lot of pain, gotten down on my knees, then you’d, finally allowed the paramedics to move you, onto the ambulance.  As you went in, the doctor said you’re about to go into shock, wanted me to sign you treatment slip, I’d told, that you want the do-not-resuscitate orders, the physician got angered, and asked, “then why did you come to the hospital?”  Tears came running, and I was left, without, any, replies.

illustration from UDN.com

圖/豆寶

Several months later, you’d left, without, disturbing anyone.  An elder had already been told, that we were to get reminded to find that handwritten last will of yours in your room.  You’d written out how the assets would be split up, and how you were, more than grateful for my younger brother’s taking care of you, worried that our older brother has the pressures of mortgage, that was why you’d left him the shopfront, and insisted that your daughters who were married all have a share of your assets.  And we also found the four extra developed copies of the family photo, with the names of the three of us, sons and daughter and our father on it, for us to keep.

I’d prepared your favorite foods and drinks on the forty-nineth day after you died, and you were happy, and allowed us to know how pleased you were.  On the way home, I’d asked my two kids what I liked to eat, and they couldn’t tell.  And it’d, suddenly dawned on me, because you knew we didn’t know you that well, that’s why you’d, made the specifications; to not get us off our guards, you’d needed to, set everything up beforehand; worried that those of us who are still here might be distraught, you’d, found ways, to offer us the solace.

Your love, my mother, still never let go, until, your, final, moment in life!

And so, this, is the considerations of your elders, because losing your mother would hit hard, and she knew it, and so, your mother had, set everything up, and all you and your siblings, your loved ones had to do, is to, just follow her instructions, that, is the thoughtfulness of your elders, toward you.

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Leaving One Last Play Behind

An example of how to set up, one’s own, final assets, regarding the divisions of inheritances, and one’s own, final care too!  Translated…

In the past, we were, coworkers, AND rivals too.  I’d, hated how she’d, talked trash about me in her conversations, but I couldn’t, help but feel in awe at how swiftly she’d, handled the matters at work, or how she was able to, realize something way before the rest of us had.  I’ll admit, I’m, a bit jealous of her.  After I’d, left my former place of work, I’d heard, that she’d, switched to working in another company too, and had even, gotten promoted to a manager.  Thanks to the internet, it’d, connected us again, and we’d, started, talking sporadically, about the things that are of, no important, matters.

Not long ago, she’d asked me out for coffee, out of curiosity, I’d, agreed.  The day we met up, she’d, lost a ton of weight, and, her eyes were, a whole lot, softer too.  She’d told me she was now, retired, I’d, prodded, “Would your boss let you go?  Wasn’t he the least bit afraid, that nobody will, fill your shoes?”, she’d smiled and told me, “he had to, because, which business owner wanted, to keep a cancer patient on the payroll?”, I felt that shock inside.  Turned out, she’s been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the third stage.  She’d told her oncologist, that she won’t be going through the extensive treatment measures, only keeping her pain controlled, during this time period, she’d first shown gratitude toward her older brother and sister-in-law, to tell her only daughter that she loves her, that on the road of single parenthood, her daughter, was her one and only, biggest console; and lastly, she thought, of me, wanted to apologize to me, that from when we’d worked together, she’d always, talked trash because she’d, envied how perfect my family is, and how everybody in the office got along with me so well………..

I didn’t know what to say to her, and, all the encouragements, and words of console seemed, excess and unnecessary.  So I’d asked her, if she’d, set up her final affairs?  For instance, the most practical, transferring her assets, the properties and the cash too, I was so certain, that it was to dodge the inheritance taxes, she’d, totally have, already, transferred the money to her daughter’s accounts, but that was, not what, she’d done.  Other than giving partial of her assets to her daughter, she’d, donated some to charitable causes, and, saved some for herself, including the property she now, lives in.  I was so curious, as to why she’d, saved some for herself?  She’d told me she wasn’t, a stingy person, although she’s, dying, but how much longer will she be, around?  The doctor’s verdicts may not be, absolute, she’d hoped, that she could, walk her final mile in someplace familiar, her own, home, and, during this time, she would, need to, spend the money to care for her self, she’d, needed, to hire a nurse to take care of her, that she’d, needed, to take good care of herself in illness.  If she didn’t die, she’d not wanted to, rely on her daughter to help her live, although, the money her daughter has, were once, from her too, but she’d, transferred the money to her daughter’s name, and, it’s, no longer, owned by her.  She’d also told me, “I’d given my child so much, what’s a little inheritance tax on her part?”, it’d, made my heart shocked, such a different sort of parent, this was, the way, for a win-win.

As the shop was, about to close, we’d, asked the waiter to take a photo of us together, we’d said goodbye.  She’d told me, to not ask around about her then, she wouldn’t have any final rites, that tonight, was the last time we’ll, ever meet up.  She’d told me, “I want you, to remember me as right now!”

On the MRT, I’d, looked, at that photo of us, I’d, thought about what she’d said about her “saving a part of her own assets for herself”, I’d felt, that she was, a role model, for how all parents should, set up the inheritances to give to their young, she’d been, an, amazing competitor, whom I’d, learned, a whole lot from that’s for sure!

And so, this, was how well-thought-out this woman was, of planning her own final affairs, she’d, made sure that her daughter will be, taken care of, and, used the amount after she’d set aside for her own daughter’s sake, to donate to charity, and, saved another portion for herself for her own, final care, that way, she wouldn’t become a burden to her own young, and she’d, still, managed, to leave her daughter with something, as well as, help those in need too.

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Filed under Cost of Living, Decision-Making, Expectations, Lessons, Letting Go, Life, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, the Finality of Life, Values

The New Home for the Elderly

Observations made from life, translated…

Awhile ago, after I’d gone for my workout at the park, I’d taken a rest on the benches, the heated summer days, with that gentle breeze, an elderly couple was sitting there, in the resting place, I’d heard the elderly woman tell the elderly man, “Let’s go to the new place to check it out later.”, I think to myself, they must have a huge sum in retirement funds.

Sitting close to them, we’d started in conversations, as we talked, the “new home” that the elderly were talking about, were the dual burial place that they’re going to be sharing after they die.  They don’t have any children, just had each other, and, had made their future plans a very long time ago.  They said, that they’d go to their “new home” to clean it up every single week.

“If you don’t have worries far off, then, you have worries nearby.”  Being able to set up one’s own funeral arrangements beforehand, and so in love, that after death, wanting to be buried together, it’s really rare to see, it’s truly, moving.

And so, you can see how close these two elderly are to one another, to want to be buried together after death, and, it’s a good thought too, because they wanted to keep each other company, even after death, and, this, is a hard-to-come-by, once-in-a-lifetime, very deep, kind of love that these two elderly share.

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Where Do I Go After I Reached a Hundred Years of Age

Translated…

A little over a decade ago, while I was under great duress from my children’s teenage rebellions, my coworker spread the gospels to me, took me to get baptized at the end, my mother didn’t know the teachings of Christianity, but she’d never doubted my faith, she’d even supported me completely in it.

Later on, my younger sister was beaten down by life, with a ton of sorrows, resentments, kept locked in, there’s no way I can offer her a helping hand, and so, I took her to get baptized, my mother still supported, she’d told me, so long as God is watching down on us, whatever we believe would be fine.

On Sundays I went to church, as the rest of the congregation started praising the Lord, I’d still sung peacefully, when the music became passionate, the brothers and sisters all got into the music’s ups and downs, raised their hands high to clap, and I, also followed their leads.  Maybe it’s my personality, how I didn’t like the rowdy crowd, as I was joining in the singing and the praising the lord, I was deeply stating, “how long is this going to last?  End this already!” my eyes became unsettled, and looked to the left and right, the rest of the congregation had their eyes closed, the extreme painful expressions, released, into sudden joys, oh, and there were tears that fell too, I’d taken all that in.  In this sinless sacred gathering, I’d peeped, and allowed my mind to wander off, plus I’d become lazy in life, and slowly, I’d stopped, attending church.  My mother discovered, that I should originally head to church on Sundays, and yet, I’d come to her early in the morning, started showing her concerns, and nagged me on since I’d believed in god, then, I must continue to attend church, that way, He would know me, and bless me too.

Even though, it’s been three to four years since I’d left my church, but these recent years, if my relatives or family members, I’d still not offered incense or kneeled, and just bowed instead, until my father’s funeral, when the announcer said to kneel down and bow our heads, I had yet to sort through the thoughts of how Christians are not supposed to do it, my knees bent on their own, and I’d started crying.  In my tears, the fresh flowers, the fruits had taken over the stage, like the age-old illnesses, so heavy; my father waved his sleeves, then, left without turning back again, went to a mysterious land, where life and death are no longer of any importance.

In my sorrows, I saw my father off, on a certain day, my mother, who was eighty years old mentioned how after she’d died, I needed not burn any money for the dead, and that her wooden plate shall be placed to the temples, so we wouldn’t need to follow the rules of the traditions of the burials that the Chinese had, and, after three years, she’d wanted her ashes placed, into the ancestor’s tombs.

Seeing how the ways of the funerals slowly changed, and her kids took to God, that out of her three daughters, two had believed in God, and, the youngest would be the left, to handle every ritual, in order to reduce the stresses and the strains on us, my mother already set up her own death, and she’s really comfortable, having planned out her death too.

The elders in the countryside believed, that if their children became believers of God, then, after they died, nobody will offer anything to them, and, they shall, starve, and, it is, an important event, to offer to the deceased, that it shouldn’t be taken lightly.  I’d heard my mother told me, that her neighbor’s grandma who’d just died came to her daughter-in-law’s dreams, saying that she was cold and hungry, wanted some clothes, some food too, and the daughter-in-law was so scared, that she quickly found someone to perform the ritualistic offerings.  Living in the old thoughts and belief systems, my mother still faced the matters of life and death with such ease, it’s her kindness to us, her children, in the future, after she’s gone, after it’s all done, would I feel, alleviated, for real?

In this state of mind, I’d told her, okay.

Then, my mother said, that God wanted us to do good, whatever you believe is fine, the important thing is being faithful in what you believe.  That it’s important, for us, to make offerings to our ancestors, you can just bow, the ancestors knew you’d taken to another belief system, they’ll understand, the most important thing is, you must pray, often, so God will bless you……..

Okay, okay, fine, fine, I know it already.

“Ah, don’t forget to go to church on Sundays, otherwise, after you’d grown old and died, there would be no place to keep you, where, can you go?”, my mother stated.

And so, this, is a family with different religious beliefs, and, the mother was very open in the sense, that she didn’t mind if her daughter took up a different religion compared to her own, and, to not impose on her children who were all Christians, she’d even planned out her own death, and that, is the kindness of a parent toward her offspring.

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The Cross-Country Trip with Your Ashes

I’d decided, to finally, take a two-week “vacation”, like I’d promised you before you’d died, to take you on that cross-country trip, but, because life got in the way, I couldn’t make the time, until now, FIVE years after you’d passed.

So, I set out, with an urn, right next to me, on the passenger side, and I drove out on the freeways, headed onto the interstate, and, arrived at that first place we’d circled together on that worn out map.

The cross-country trip with your ashes, inside that URN that they’d handed you BACK to me in, I’d thought long, and hard, about where you’d like your “final resting place” to be at, and, I’d decided, to go on this trip, with you (well, the REMAINS of you, at least!!!), strapped in on the passenger side next to me in the car.

The cross-country trip with your ashes, that, is all I have, because back when you were still living (you know, with a pulse, a heart rate and all the rest???), you’d NEVER made the time with me, and then, it became that I got way too busy with life, and couldn’t make time for you either (call it PAYBACK for childhood if you want to!!!).

On this last trip cross-country that I’d taken, with your ashes, inside that urn that they (the mortuary) handed me, we’d shared a LOT MORE than we ever could, never thought the dead would be such great listener that’s the thing…

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On His Final Journey

He set out, for the very last, and final time, and this time, he SHALL NOT return again. He’d taken it extremely slow, on his final journey, cherished each and every step, and moment it took, for him, to reach the “finish lines”.

On his final journey, he’d noticed the things he’d never paid attention to from before, he’d been down this road so many times already, but because this, was his final journey, down this road, ONE last time, he’d taken the time, and the mind, to pay attention to all the beauties he’d missed from before.

On his final journey, nobody knew what’d happened, as he, was ALL alone, with the company of NOBODY ELSE but himself. On his final journey, how did you think he fared? I mean, none of us had ever seen him since that last trip he took out of here. On his final journey, the grace of god was with him, or, so he was led to believe, but, was it, really, the presence of G-O-D? Or, was it, instead, the D-E-V-I-L?

On his final journey, what did he see? Nobody knew, we just found him dead, with a goofy look on his face, and, we can only speculate what, exactly happened, in those moments before his death, but, ALL of that, would only BE speculations, and, the one who knows the entire truth? Well, he ain’t there NO more (yeah, so???), to tell us all about it now, is he? Nope!!!

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A Plain Life, a Simple Goodbye

Planning the after-life, translated…

It’s no longer a dream, to live to be a hundred, so long as you don’t have the bad habits of smoking, gambling, and whoring; persist on a simple lifestyle.

Maybe, someone would comment on how this, is impossible, an unreachable dream, and still, I’d held to this way of life for nearly eighty years to date.  When I was born in 1935, it was the time of the World War, and the great depressions, as a child, I’d been raised, to save every single penny, which allowed me to hold true to this view of simplicity in life.

After twenty years, I’ll be a centurian, some twenty, thirty odd years earlier, I’d taken up tennis, and working in the fields, as my weekend rituals.  Back as we worked for the government agencies when we’d gotten ill, we’d have to get the slips to see the doctors, well, I’d never needed a single slip for thirty years of services for the government agencies, and now, my national health insurance card is for the purpose of security, or to be used in the follow up or regular health checkups, and, paying into the health insurance accounts can help those who aren’t able to afford it, to help those who are in need.

Health, other than it being hereditary, it also depends on your behaviors; even though, I’m already eighty, I’d still walk around the exercise fields for twenty laps, and, when the weather’s warmer, I’d gone to my small farm, to plant my fruits and vegetables for two hours.  This, is the way I used, to keep myself healthy, hoping that I have a chance of dying easily like my own mother, this needed constant practice to finally accomplish.

If the day came, I’d use a simple way, to NOT notify the world, to NOT accept anything, to save up on the resources and the energies.

I would have my ashes spread all over a tree, and have my name on the common headstone that my ancestors had shared, so my offspring would have a place to visit me in, even though, this, is not completely throwing out the rules, but it could reduce all the unnecessary rituals, wouldn’t you say so?

So, this person wanted to say goodbye simply, after all, it’s NOT how you’d passed away that’s important, it’s what you’d done, leading UP to the moment of your death, isn’t it?  So, just SKIP all the rituals, all the open-casket shits, and just get cremated, so we can all become fertilizers to the trees, or become a part of the minerals in the diets of fishes in the seas…

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