Thursday, October 27, 2005

Grave Memories

As a family we never had any reason to go to the cemetery during Nov. 1 because most of our dead relatives were buried in the province or abroad. So I grew up not having to make those annual visits.

I was in first year high school when Death visited our family with a vengeance—my grandmother died on Dec. 26, followed by my younger brother on Dec. 27. My grandma was 96; my brother was only 4 years old. My grandma lived a very full life; my younger brother never got to play with the toys he received for Christmas. Pity my poor dad; he lost a mother and a child in a span of two days. The old folks whispered behind our parents’ back that maybe our Lola Charing wanted someone to accompany her to the grave and chose her grandson. The upside to having their deaths one day apart is lower costs: one chapel for two wakes, lower refreshment costs, and we were able to arrange that they be buried in the same grave, one coffin on top of another (they just had to dig a deeper hole).

Every November when we’d visit their graves, we’d park our cars at the Loyola House of Studies in Ateneo and walk down the hill to the side entrance of the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina. We learned the ins and outs of the cemetery. And we established certain traditions to make the annual trip more fun: we’d go early morning while the day was not yet that hot, stay there ‘til just before lunch, then eat out somewhere in Katipunan (Shakey’s was a favorite for several years).

When I was in first year college, my closest friend died in a hit-and-could-have-run-but-chose-to-bring-the-victim-to-the-hospital accident in front of the Sto. Domingo church. He was going to church to pray; he ended up in church being prayed upon. His grave is several blocks away from my brother-and-grandma’s grave, so after the first year I decided not to go out of my way to pass by his grave during Nov. 1.

Two years ago my dad was buried just a block away from my friend’s grave. Last year I tried looking for my friend’s grave but couldn’t remember where.

Every year I notice the crowds getting thinner and thinner. People still visit their dearly departed but I think more and more choose not to stay for the whole two days. Meanwhile I see every year an increase in fast food stands mushrooming in and near the entrances of the memorial park. Happily the atmosphere in Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina has not degenerated into a fiesta or circus mood. Most people still try to keep that solemn mood while visiting.

That’s why I really would prefer cremation; you get to stay home during Nov. 1. You don’t have to go on a grave visit that will just leave you dead tired.

3 Comments:

Blogger Saint Eroica said...

i am touched about the death of your younger brother. 4years old? My God... may i know why he died?

11:46 PM  
Blogger McVie said...

Doctors called it "nefritis" which is the short version of some very long medical term. It's a viral infection of the kidney.

1:31 PM  
Blogger McVie said...

Este, "nephritis" pala. I just googled it. :-)

1:34 PM  

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