Monday, 23 February 2009

Death of a Grandmother 1 – Tradition or Ignorance?

The death of my grandmother, 6 days ago, came neither as a surprise, nor as a shock to anyone in the family. We were expecting it and were prepared both emotionally and logistically.

It was the first time I was in charge of organizing a funeral and, as I had expected, the biggest challenge was listening patiently and politely to all the silly people claiming I SHOULD do this and that or that this and that is WHAT IT IS DONE.

Says who? What use will it be to my grandmother or anyone if I break a clay pot in the yard when the coffin is taken out of the house? Or if I hang a white cloth at the door for the next 40 days? Or if I wrap 24 candles in handkerchiefs with a coin folded in at the end? Or if I tie a coin to her left index finger while she’s lying quite dead in the coffin? Or if I put a mirror, comb and money in a purse in the coffin? Or if I drive at the back of row of cars instead of in front of the funeral car to lead the way to the cemetery? (I can give you an answer to that one right now: the funeral car will get lost and granny’s corpse will be lost in the city for at least one hour, delaying the whole funeral and risking the priest’s departure because of the funeral scheduled right afterwards).

As was to be expected from someone already under stress, who hadn’t slept in 3 days, who was wearing the same clothes and hadn’t showered since the day granny died and especially someone who is known to be quite impulsive when pushed, I snapped. It happened when the umpteenth old hag, all dressed up like she was going to the Opera rather than her friend’s funeral, walked into the house on the third day (the day of the funeral) and had the audacity to tell me that something (can’t remember what) had been done wrong.

Well, if you are such an expert, my dear lady, why the fuck weren’t you here on the first day, to help me wash and dress my grandmother’s stiffening corpse minutes after she died, while trying to keep her head from wobbling too much for fear her neck would snap and at the same time wondering why I was worrying about breaking a corpse’s neck anyway? Why weren’t you there when I had to hold my hand over her eyes for what seemed an eternity, because they just refused to stay shut? Why weren’t you here when I was ordering the coffin and when the wrong one came instead and I was afraid it would not fit in the grave? (none of my family have ever reached 6 foot heights, and my deceased grandmother was barely 5 foot!!) And anyway, where the fuck were you for the past year, when my grandmother was in and out of hospitals, when she couldn’t leave her bed anymore, when she wished her death because she felt helpless and abandoned by everyone as well as a burden to her children and grandchildren? Where were you when you were needed?

Oh, sorry! Did I offend you? My sincere apologies. I think that came out wrong. What I meant was: Fuck off home or wherever else you’ve been when your friend actually needed you while she was alive. I don’t need your concern about how I care for her in death. Make sure you make a list of all your ignoramus rules, traditions and superstitions and give it to your children to learn by heart before they have to burry you! And hurry along now! Go make that list, because it won’t be long before they need it and, God forbid, they might not have enough time to study it properly and they’ll use the wrong colour fabric to drape the mirrors with. Won’t that send your soul straight to Hell where you belong?

The fucking ignorance and self-righteousness you have to put up with during the most important or stressful events in your life! What was that saying? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions? Spot on!

1 comment:

  1. Neagrigore said:

    I will only mention the fact that these ceremonies are merely for us, the remaining ones, and not for the dearly departed. It is a nice way of saying goodbye. It should not come as a surprise that everybody comes to the table with something and it might look like a carnival. But hey, that's life!