We celebrated Mother’s Day early. We figured we would beat the crowds on Sunday. My mom, dad, sister and I met at Fujiyama downtown. To me, Fujiyama is a Furr’s Cafeteria of Japanese dining. The food has so much sugar in it that even without eating the rice, the beef bento box I took to my husband at his office shot his blood up to 320. Juns is better.
I arrive at mom & dad’s house to drive them to the restaurant. We are headed downtown (ugh) and parking is a nightmare. The fewer cars we need to find parking for the better. Dad takes mom’s hand to help her down the stairs of their front porch. Mom fell ‘again’ and hurt herself trying to escape from a big dog in a truck at the corner store. She is wobbly and frail in her movements. She puts on a brave face but it is obvious age is catching up to her.
I didn’t want to go to lunch so early. I picked them up at 10:30 so my sister who is also Orthodox can catch a bit of the funeral service happening at temple. I tried to get mom to go a bit later but she likes to beat the lunch crowd. Okay. As a friend of mine at church told me, ‘there will be another.’. Yes. I take comfort in the way the Orthodox handle death. I am an introvert. so much so that when I ‘finally’ got married, the people at my bridal showers who weren’t family were my sister’s friends. Not kidding. Barring any unforeseen events that would cause a blessed, early death, being the youngest in my family means that everyone could be dead before I die. I told you I’ve been thinking about this a deal (deal: part or portion- a usually large or indefinite quantity or degree) lately. I had often wondered who would be at my funeral. God bless the Orthodox Church. As someone in ladies’ group told me; ‘there are no private events in the Orthodox Church’. If the priest doesn’t announce the event then of course those who do not know about it would not attend. If it is being talked about and is put into the bulletin, go. There will be people at my funeral one day even if my entire family has died before me. Well, I’m sure they will be there one way or another (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I plan to talk to our parish priest to set up a 40 day liturgy schedule after I pass away.
Mom’s cat had to be put down recently due to kidney stones. At lunch I asked her what she did with him.
She, ‘He was cremated.’
Me, ‘What did you do with the ashes?’
She, ‘Nothing. I left him there. You know me. Better not die when I’m around!’
I have never been comfortable with cremation. We got into a discussion about death in ladies’ group a couple of weeks ago. We are reading, Elder Anthony of Optina. Great book. I highly recommend it. It is a biography and in it is discussed (among other things) the deaths of various persons including of course, Elder Anthony. Cremation is not something the Orthodox do. Cremation is a throw back to the days of paganism. Burnt offerings to pagan gods included your body when you died. My mom is hyper focused on not being a burden to her children (my sister and I). In her mind she is doing us a favor by being cremated and then having her ashes interred with my father’s in a military cemetery in Denver. We don’t live in Denver.
I would dearly love to be able to visit their graves here in town. To know they are just down the road like always.
Lunch concludes. Mom and sis go to have pedicures. I take dad home after I drop off the take-out from the restaurant to hubs at work.
I will be in temple some time this weekend, lighting candles, praying for the living and the dead. It’s never over. Life remains after the body fails. The dead are among the living just as the living are among the dead. Our modern world tries to block out illness, suffering and death. It is played down, explained away or ignored altogether. Perhaps if we were more open about eternity we would be better prepared for our transition into the next stage of our existence? I wish churches still had graveyards. Most graveyards are tucked away on side roads where they are rarely seen. Live for today. Forget about death and you’ll never have to face it. These seem to be modern messages of our hyper youth focused culture. Why think about anything of substance when there are so many fluffy distractions?
Will you be ready for your transition when it happens?