her lord majesty, the elevendy twelfth president! (deardieary) wrote,
her lord majesty, the elevendy twelfth president!

The day that the world contained one less person in the world who I care about.

Last Thursday, 7/15/08, my 98 year old paternal grandmother passed away. I always called her, "pau pau." Making the sound of the beginning of the word pauper, but I've seen people phonetically write it as "po po." It was around 4:30 in the afternoon when my sister called me. She told me how she called my mom to ask her something and then my mom told her and started to babble on about what happened. My mom told her, but said that my dad was going to tell the both of us later in the day when we would meet for our usual Thursday night father/daughter dinner. My sis didn't feel that it was right for her to know something that important while I didn't. When she told me, it seemed like my ears went deaf right after I heard her say, "Pau pau passed away this morning." I can't remember what she said to me after that. I only remember saying, "Okay, okay, okay," to get her off of the phone with me. After we hung up, I instantly started crying at my work table. I sat there for less than five minutes before going into the locker/break room to be by myself and really cry without worrying about anyone seeing me and trying to talk to me. After about ten minutes, I pulled it together and went back to work. The rest of the stuff I had to do, I rushed through and ran out the door by 5. I went home laid down and cried before meeting my dad and sis for dinner. My dad told us that he was on his way to see her that morning and the hospice called him when he was on the road. When he got there and saw her, he got choked up. The only good thing was that she went in her sleep and she's not in any pain.

Friday was a weird day because the idea of her not being alive became this abstract idea in my head and I told myself that I accepted that she was gone. It was pretty normal that day except that I had to put proper clothes and shoes into my bag before going to my parents' house for the weekend. Saturday was like any other normal day.

Sunday started out normal except that we were going to a wake. We left the house around one to pick up my aunt and cousin. It was a pretty quite ride into Manhattan except for my mom's usual irritating babbling. We stopped at my pau pau's old apartment to pick up some clothes that were supposed to be put into the casket with her. We got to the funeral home at 2:30. When we were right outside, I told my sister that I felt nauseous. She said that she felt the same way. When my mom opened the door, I thought, "This is it." Panic hit me when I saw her name written outside of the viewing room. My brain said, "Oh no." We walked further in and saw all the chair and flowers in the room with her inside a casket at the very end. It felt so unreal and wrong. My sister went up before I did. By the time I got to her side, she was crying. I can't remember where my mom was. I just stood there with my sister looking at our pau pau laying there like she was sleeping in a purple suit. We both started to cry and ran to sit away from our pau pau. My aunt and cousin went up next to look at her. For a bit they seemed normal, but soon my aunt's shoulders started to shake and my cousin reached out and put his arm around his mom. They put black ribbons around our arms and a white flower in my aunts hair and green ones for my and my sis. After some discussion, they put a purple blanket on top of her lower half to cover her hands because they wanted to cover her hands because they were wrinkled. This was weird because she was 98 so she should have wrinkled hands. The viewing/service seemed to last for days. So many people came and payed their respects, shook our hands, etc. Most of them were members of my aunt's church. I tried not to look at my pau pau because every time I looked at her it was hard for me not to start crying again. I stared at everything possible, the floor, the podium, the people, the flowers. There wasn't a Buddhist ceremony because my pau pau agreed to be baptized a few months ago. I'm not sure if she did it because she believed, she was scared or she knew that it meant a lot to my aunt and cousin. I don't think my dad would have liked a Buddhist ceremony anyway because doesn't like stuff he views as pointless tradition. My cousin gave a speech before the pastors spoke. When the pastors gave their speeches, I was bothered that the one speaking in English referred to my pau pau as Ms. Chin, when her name was Ms. Chan. He also started talking less about her and more about trying to convert the unconverted in the room. I didn't like how he wasn't concentrating on talking about her because it seemed like he was using the opportunity for his own gain. Soon after the speeches, my cousin fell ill and was taken to a hospital. He had pain all along his spine and into his head. My aunt left with him to make sure that he was all right. People left after awhile. There was a family there who where friends of my cousin that came and their presence bothered me. They were dressed for a day at the park and the two little boys where sitting around snacking and playing in their chairs. I felt so angry because it seemed like they were just there for the air conditioning and tea and cakes instead of paying respect and honoring my grandma. I know that she doesn't mean anything to them, but do they have to come to her funeral and throw it into our faces that it means nothing to them. I wished those people hadn't come especially those croc and shorts wearing children. One of my mom's sisters and her husband where the last to come. She wore a leather skirt with a slit on the front of her left thigh. The woman wears this kind of shit to a funeral!? I wanted to close a folding chair on her head. We went to look at her one last time for the day. They wanted the family to go first and then the remaining people who were my other grandma, my stupid fucking aunt and her husband. I didn't want those three to be the last ones to look at her. So, my mom and dad went up and my sister and I told the other three to go. My other grandma started urging us to go up as if we weren't going to go at all, but I said, "We're going to do it we just want to be last," in a voice that was as calm as I could manage. Then me and sis went up with our dad. I looked at her for a long time and said, "Goodbye pau pau." I walked away crying any my stupid aunt tried to console me, but I just wanted to get her away from me as far as possible.

Monday was the burial and the hardest day I've had to live through so far. We had to be at the funeral home at 10 am. My mom felt "sick" before we left and she stayed home. My cousin was still feeling weak from the day before and stayed home as well. We got there and found my grandma where we left her the day before. I don't know why I was expecting to see the casket closed, but I was. We gathered before her before other people came that day and as we were there, a guy from a Buddhist ceremony next door came by playing a flute. I was so irked that I wanted to break his flute over my knee. A few more people came to view and pay their respects. Some people who had come the day before came again. I was weirded out when my other grandma sat in the family section when people came to pay their respects. When it was time to leave, the visitors viewed her one last time and then the family. After the last viewing they had us go back to where we sat when we greeted people. The people who worked there started to prep the casket and took down the flowers that were going with us to the cemetery. They put the clothes that we brought near her feet. Then they started to tuck the lining inside and lower her head. When they lowered her heard, my aunt said, "A ma," and my heart broke from hearing her say that. When they closed the casket, I thought, "NO!," and started to cry harder. Before that I could pretend that she was just sleeping, but closing her up in that box meant that that was the last time I ever got to see her.

My pau pau was buried at Mount Pleasant cemetery, which is about an hour away from our home. When we went up with the hearse each car was labeled with "son", "daughter" and "friend." When we got to the cemetery, everything happened so quickly. They unloaded her casket so quickly and the men who worked there were so rough with the casket. They shoved it around and I wanted to scream, "Be careful, she's in there!" They placed the flowers around her and the flower framed portrait was placed right in front of us while the pastor gave a speech. A huge seal was lowered to create this water tight box around her casket. One of the men stepped onto the seal to move it into place and unhook the chains used to lower it. When his feet hit the surface of the seal, both my sister and I cringed. This man from the funeral home took off our black arm ribbons and tied it around a red carnation with the green hair flower. My dad didn't have any flower and my aunt had a white one. We all took turns throwing our carnations in. After that everyone took a candy and a coin. Then it was back into the cars to go home. I know it's weird, but I didn't want to leave her there because she'd be alone. I was still crying when we got into the car. There isn't a headstone yet, but when it goes up it will have my grandfather's name on it too. When we got back to the city, we had the after funeral meal with everyone who came with us to the cemetery. Before we ate, we all had a taste of this clear wine and my sister, aunt and I put a red hair flower on.

I've never cried so much and so hard before. My pau pau is the first person who was close to me who passed away. Her funeral was the first one I ever went to. I'm upset that I never taped her at a family gathering. She had the sweetest laugh of anyone I've ever known. And now I'll never get to hear it again.
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