Friday, October 14, 2011

The Wedding and the Funeral

My Grand-Auntie Luan died two-days ago. Last night, the family held a short, informal gathering. It was a touching moment. A few tears were shed but I felt that the gathering had the feel of a celebration of a life well lived rather than a wake for the departed. I remember telling Uncle Jeffrey I was sorry for the loss of his mother and he said, “No, don’t be sorry – she had a good, long life.”

He’s right; she lived until 85, which is a good innings by most standards. Her old age was what you could call a good one. While she had plenty of health issues, she constantly in the presence of loved ones and from what I gathered from her family, her passing was peaceful. What more could one have wished for?

These simple facts of her life ensured that despite the few tears shed, the family gathering became a celebration of her life rather than mourning for her death. Her passing is the end of an era for my mother’s side of the family. My mother’s grandmother’s children and their spouses (Grand-Aunt Luan was the wife of Grand-Uncle Peter, my grandma’s elder brother) have gone and as clich├ęd as it sounds a new era for the family begins.

This point was brought home by the fact that Grand-Aunt Luan passed away a week after her grandson Jonathan got married. Grand-Uncle Dick (Husband of Great-grandma’s adopted daughter, Eunice) pointed out that Grand-Aunt Luan had not been eating much towards the last few days of her life. However, when it came to Jonathan’s wedding she found her appetite again. You could say that she waited to see her grandson get married – enjoyed the party and then she left on a high-note. When you look at things this way – Uncle Jeffrey could not have been more correct – she had a good life.

Grand-Auntie Luan’s children and grandchildren have made it a point to ensure that her passing will be a celebration of her life. By doing that, they made sure that Chinese New Year celebrations at their house will remain a happy occasion and although the three old ladies who used to be the centre of attention (Grandma, Grand-Aunts Violet and Luan) are no longer around, the family love will continue.

What freaks me out was Jonathans wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy he’s found Crystal. They look good together and their wedding dinner was a fabulous occasion.

My problem is – I still think of Jonathan as a small kid and seeing him do something as grown-up as getting married is freaky! Suddenly it makes me realise that time is really flown by. The children that I once knew are growing up. What happened to all the “little cute” guys I knew.

First it was my baby brother Christopher. When I thought of Christopher it was all about giving him tight hugs and jumping in his bed in the morning. Now, he’s in university. The last time I had to say good bye to him, it was at a tube station in Hamburg, he was in the German Military and we saluted.

Now, it’s Jonathan getting married and taking that big step into setting up a life on his own with the woman that he loves. I can’t believe it and he still looks like a young boy.......

Grand Aunt’s passing and Jonathan’s wedding has been two reminders that life moves. My mum made the point that nothing is finite so treasure the people that you love now and don’t wait till they’re gone.

I didn’t spend all that much time with my grandma. I lived overseas most of my life and so only saw her on holiday. Then when I moved back, I continued to treat things as they were. Grandma seemed to be one of those people who would last forever. She had her bouts of ill health but other than that she was pretty indestructible. Then one day she was gone.

When I look back at my own experience, I have the regret that I wasn’t the better grandson I could have been. I do wish that I had found the time to share a decent moment with her.

However, I look at Grand-Aunt Luan’s passing and I bless the fact that there is God out there who saw to it that Jonathan was a better grandson to his grandmother than I was to mine. God was good to see that Jonathan could share his special moment with his grandmother. I’m sure it made her passing easier.........

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