Friday, May 3, 2013

Hell Week or would some say Heaven Week

Hell or Heaven Week
(if you believe that sort of thing...
or perhaps Death or Rebirth Week
again if you believe...)

Monday Boston Marathon news came on TV
There was a bomb go off at the Finish line, then there was another bomb went off
as per past disasters, not understanding, watched news/CNN nervously/constantly for days

Local Marathon runners, there were 95 from Louisiana, were reported to be all OK
at least 1 local runner was interviewed on local evening news

Tuesday as still watching the news about the Bombing/the backpack/the suspects/the hospitals
most griping was the chief surgeon at the hospital where many went
as he talked you got the feeling he'd seen these things before--but in war
not say on the streets of Boston during the Marathon
as many also would say it could not have happened at the worst/best place
medical staff were ready, were numerous--this tho was not what they were expecting

the phone rang, at our house, the Father in Law--no not to talk about Boston, no ties there
the Mother in Law or as he says (insert son's name) Mother had passed that morning & he wanted to talk to his son--who was at work, which I will have to call to tell him to call home
so I was surprised, kept it brief, hung up, called the office
then came the packing, the run the dogs to the kennel, the text a friend to watch the house, dropped off the keys, then the late start to the day of driving towards Colorado




















her kitchen doorway cloth curtains
downstairs there are beaded curtains over 2 doorways
a memory of her house, her kitchen
we will have to go say Goodbye


She had been in the hospital with pneumonia
they had sent her to the Nursing Home
it was a week later, she had been battling a bacteria
she had a fever that Monday night
was given Tylenol
she did not wake up Tuesday morning

We drove for a day and a half
when we stopped for the night in Denton, TX
we turned on the TV news

West, TX had just hours earlier blown up
due to a Fertilizer Plant
we had maybe driven by on the highway
we didn't stop there
we weren't far away
we'd gone for dinner at the German restaurant in old downtown Denton, TX




















we'd walked around the courthouse, later reading it & nearby buildings are haunted by ghosts
now there would be a town full of ghosts, in West, TX (who names a town West--I kept waiting for the rest of the city name when I first heard the news on TV...)


Full Moon while we were in Colorado
It would snow twice, even tho nearly end of April
When we returned home we would watch the Weather Channel
watching it snow again on May 1st, for May Day, for the Day in the past folks would put flower cones on other folks/neighbors doors & dance ribbons around a May pole



out the window, along the highway
from Colorado Springs to Denver, CO
snowing in late April

Along the drive my sister would text me that she was expecting to be layed off the next day
then she'd gotten my text that we were driving to CO, that my mother in law had passed
this too after she'd watched the news, first the Boston Marathon, then the Fertilizer Plant blowing up a town & her blood pressure rising with the expectation of being layed off & to top it off me driving to a funeral in CO, where it would then snow twice

Was it the Full Moon
Were the Stars mis-aligned
or what
all that with a side of Global Warming

Thursday night we arrived
Family gathered
Friday more family flew in
Phone calls/e-mails/text's/Facebook continued
Skype call on Friday afternoon for the Wake
as all her family, my Mother in Law, was in Japan

She was to be cremated & buried the next Thursday
I the Daughter in Law sat with the son, the daughter, the husband
the funeral director & his assistant for hours earlier on Friday before the Wake
going over all the ridiculously costly details

I will have none of that
I didn't want to see any of that
I didn't even do that for my Grandmother or Grandfather or Mother
who have all passed a long, Long time ago












just an example, from Urn Garden webpage
of what an urn for ashes would look like
with the smaller keepsake urn beside it
(not shown is the necklace you can also get - to carry tiny ashes with you as a keepsake
or to go further you can get a necklace made of your loved one's finger or thumb print...
those last 2 are just way/Way too much for me...never in a million years...on another note there are urns that are biodegradable & some look like seashells...why not a real seashell, aren't they biodegradable...as I adore the beach I may consider this over scattering to the winds...or we'll see what the future will bring--my Grandmother wished for a phone box to walk into that would vaporize her, she was ahead of her time with that way of thinking...either that or read too much...)

her ashes would be separated
one small mini urn, will be at some point taken to Japan to join with deceased family inside the family crypt...
where her brother is, passing from a heart attack (as many males of the family did, I was told)
where her mother, who was over 90, if not close to 100, passed & is there in the family crypt
she had been for a visit at least the 1st Anniv, if not 2nd or 3rd Anniv, (which is in like year 3 or 7 & not year 2 or 3) to celebrate her mother's life, to honor the family crypt--by a traditional visit, as the Buddhist's do, as she was raised that way in Japan before marrying an American & leaving everything, including her language to come to the USA - can you call her a war bride, I'm not sure...

Now my Mother in Law will have Anniv visits in possibly 2 places
1 in the Nat'l Cemetery in Denver, Co - as her husband is a retired soldier from both the Army & the Navy so his ashes will be buried there also
the other will be in Japan, outside Tokyo, in Yokohama I think, where the family crypt is
she is survived by 3 sisters & their families who will carry on that Buddhist tradition

My Father in law/her husband will be given a certificate of the Anniversary schedule to be followed for a Buddhist tradition from the Buddhist Reverend--at 49 days there is a date, at a month after that I think, then comes the 1 year, the 3 years, the 7 years & so on & on until up to 75 years after the person is cremated/buried

"The 49th day is significant because Japanese believe that the spirit lingers in the body for 49 days before departing. This is in when the soul goes on a 49-day journey through the land of the dead and is judged and assigned where it is going to go in the six realms of Buddhist cosmology. "
from Funerals in Japan...Remembering the Dead...
http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=604

On Skype at the funeral home for the Viewing there was her oldest sister & another sister who's daughter's daughter was the one to set up the Facebook interaction with the grand daughter in Colorado, who will be the one to Skype her & the family that could gather at the house in Japan to attend the Family Viewing in the US by way of Skype on an Apple laptop

Link to Skype, we use the Free Service...
http://www.skype.com/en/

Many will speak Japanese, only 1 will speak English, trying to translate for both sides
Many will say she's Beautiful, she does afterall look as if she's just sleeping
Her sister will try to touch her face from their laptop in Japan to the laptop in Colorado via Skype
it's a bit blurry if anyone moves too quickly or they move the laptop but at times it's as if they are in the room
There are boxes of tissues everywhere, in this Viewing/Wake Room, peeking out the curtains to the side chapel, there are 2 boxes of tissues on every pew...
the Father in law/the husband still uses a cloth handkerchief, which I don't remember seeing anyone use for real since maybe my Grandfather or on TV on a Victorian show or maybe workers in a field

My Mother in Law looks like a doll in a doll bed, her head on a pillow, a patchwork blanket over her & pulled up to her chin - her daughter will bring her a favorite red scarf of hers for her to wear around her neck while the family views her...they have put 'light' makeup on her face, she is not wearing her dark brown wig (as she use to do before Parkinson's froze her up to the point of not being able to swallow or talk or move...) & there are blue/low light spotlights turned on overhead, the rest of the room has a sofa/chairs/side tables/lamps as if it's a Living room, would they call it a Drawing room in the past (today it's a Viewing Room, a Wake Room)

She is at peace, she is relaxed, she is not struggling, she is not in pain, she doesn't have to try to communicate, she is frozen in sleep, as she was, when you are nearly as peaceful as in death - I cannot be sad for her, her Parkinson's is gone, I can be sad for her family/friends left behind except for the good memories of when she was well, alive, active, involved, traveling, a friend, dancing, a crafter of so many things...

We will remember her oragami, her lace making, her doll making, her cooking, her perfect gifts, her slipping money to you when you left the house from a visit, her being well dressed, her translating for us, her watching Japanese kid cartoons with the grandkids/great grandkids, so many such moments make up a life time, make up our memories, captured in so many photos, to relive those memories, stories to retell, remembering when...

So many things in the house remind us of her, especially while cooking in her kitchen...






 
 
a tiny example of remembrance - her old electric fry pan, her using chopsticks to turn the bacon
she could even turn big pieces of chicken while frying them in this pan
(I will at some point in my married life visiting this house start up this habit at home too, I will fry with wooden chopsticks - tho I had to get the long ones, but can in a pinch use the short ones...just like what you get out at a restaurant...it makes me remember the boy's grandmother, my mother in law & it makes me smile...)


I have not been in a funeral home since my Grandfather/-mother passed, the first when I was in Elementary school & the last in my last year of college back in Florida

The family will in the week that follows, start going thru a lot of family photo's, there will be good stories/smiling/laughing (it's a healing thing) & eat a lot of good or bad food & get/make a lot of phone calls/e-mails/social media messages - there will be flowers delivered, a food basket at the house...










 
Lillies...Oh the scent of these, even before they're fully open
they follow you into the room, here the living room
am not sure why a Lily is the funeral flower/the sympathy flower
then read that the Lily can symbolize the restored soul at death
 
 
 
 
 
















I did not know you could order from a florist, a gift basket for sympathy (is it comfort food)
like one full of snacks, meat, cheese, mustard, crackers, pretzels, candy, cookies, etc...
Where's the Fruit?!












One night it was Chicken Enchiladas with lots/Lots of cheese sauce
my niece's recipe/her grand daughter (she woulda been proud) and I helped...chop, a lot...


We will watch the TV news about Boston, about Texas, about snow in Colorado
We will read the same news in the local newspaper that Poppa/Grandpa gets delivered every day







already in the local Colorado Springs, CO or was it Fountain, CO newspaper there are political/ editorial cartoons - this one in reference to the Boston Marathon - by Gary Varvel
Link found here...(but I just snapped a cell phone foto of the newspaper page, hope that's OK?!)
http://www.cagle.com/2013/04/i-see-you/

Over the weekend the Army son/grandson has been planning on attending the funeral on Thursday
Monday he is finally allowed officially to have leave, then he tells his Mom

We will spend more than 1/2 the day, 2 nieces & his Mom, trying to call 3 airlines (Delta, SW Airlines, KLM) to get him from NC to CO - he was not allowed an Emergency/Bereavement or Funeral rate, he was allowed a Military rate, he cannot use his Mom's huge mileage amount on one airline for another...

And then when it's done, we thought - without much allowance for days/times - he misses the same day evening flight & has to sleep in his vehicle at the airport in order to make it the next morning for standby, the airport being an hour away from his house

We will have to drive an hour away ourselves to the airport in Denver to pick him up, from Colorado Springs
It will have snowed, it will be slushy roads, it will snow more, there will be accidents, the car tires will be slippery, we will run out of window washer fluid & have to stop at a gas station for more & to scrape all the dirty icy slush off the car







Uggs in the deep, by inches, snow...
beside the gas station, waiting for the I'm Here cell phone text or call from an airport terminal

My Niece, the grand daughter, his cousin, will be the one to drive his Auntie, his Mom to the airport to pick him up--he will then walk to the wrong side of the airport & we will have to drive, due to construction, a long way to the other side to finally get him, then back again to the house for the weather to have finally have cleared up a bit
























 
Denver Int'l Airport - the new one, still under construction
I've not seen this architecture, that looks like a Tribe has set up tents
out on the plains from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains
(or if you're old enough & don't think about it too much, there's a fleeting resemblance to the Herculoids - old morning space cartoon, same time Johnny Quest/Space Ghost were on - or the two called Gloop & Gleep...only this would have to be if they went home & the whole village showed up kind of thing...) 


On Monday the son & the husband/father in law/grandfather will have driven to Denver, to downtown, to near Sekura Square, to speak with the Buddhist monk, he's from Japan (that's all my father in law cares about) - but he calls himself a reverend - he has asked him to do the funeral ceremony on Thursday, over the phone but has to still come sit in front of him (he cannot hear well on the phone, he still won't get a hearing aide) - there will only be a 1/2 hour for a service, you get an app't, you can't be late (we are told it's like an airport, you're late, you don't get the time) that's all you get at the Nat'l Ceremony
In the end he will have like 20 min's at the Pavilion for the service & 10 more min's at the gravesite for his shortened Buddhist rituals of chanting/words/incense...

We will hear the ceremony in English & Japanese, there will be chanting in the later, we will be asked to say a few chanting words, there will be incense, we will be asked to light some incense each & say whatever words we want to the wife/mother/mother in law/grandmother/great grandmother, there will be a chime or bell struck, a number of times (maybe before/after the chanting)...

We all say words in our heads as we toss the tiny incense granules onto the tiny square burner on the foldup table with a black/gold cloth over it with the Urn on it & another tiny container on it that looks like an incense holder maybe...

We will all bow & take our seats again...there will be more chanting...we will put our palms together as if in prayer & we will meditate (we will be told none of this has to do with religion, we are honoring the departed, we are only meditating...)

They were told earlier that there must be all white flowers, the daughter will have to call to have this changed last minute on Monday...but we are still allowed to wear all black, someone thinks they will do this in Japan too, wear all black to funerals (we've had to consult Wikipedia as well, not to be disrespectful...)

The grand daughters, one especially, will have to call/visit/get online to help set up the Internet page via the funeral home--mostly for the relatives in Japan, this is where a lot of the found photos have gone to be put on a jump drive, to be taken in for their computer to upload or for photos to be scanned

At the funeral service/by the grave the nieces will use an ipad & Galaxy phone to video the ceremony, the Buddhist reverend - again for the family back in Japan, as the time there is 3 or 4am in the morning during this 1:30pm/afternoon funeral in Denver, CO

We will all wear black, we will try to take a lot of photos of us all together by the lake--afterwards we will realize that the husband/father/father in law will have been talking with the two funeral driver/attendant the whole time & is not in any photo

We followed the hearse over from Fountain, CO to Denver, CO - there would be a white drape over a box insert in the back of the hearse where the Urn of ashes/remains will be set into for the ride to the Nat'l Cemetery...
up behind the front seats there is a place to carry the flowers that will go the length of what will be a headstone...

after 30 - 90 days when it's engraved there will be a military, arched, headstone & will be set into place at the Nat'l Cemetery...(on the front with the military members info & on the back the spouse, the inscription will not be much more than loving wife, mother, grandmother we are told...)

there is a whole section being dug with temporary markers & wood walking on boards over the plots that have been dug up, there are at least 2 of them with dried up/dead flowers over them...Nat'l Cemeteries have a lot of rules for bringing/laying flowers on graves, there is also something called a grave blanket reference on the list of instructions--I have never heard of that before..





Ft Logan Nat'l Cemetery - all the armed forces are buried here
Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard

While taking photos by the admin bldg we will see a Coyote, mistaken for a dog at first, running across the green space on the other side of the lake from the admin bldg...
there is a couple of geese on our side & on the other some ducks on the bank who will flap into the water on the other side when the Coyote will run down to the waters edge...
then on the corkboard by the admin door we will read about the Coyote's
we are to keep our distance
if they approach we are to yell at them
we only saw one, he had no intention of coming near us--he was not small like a fox, he was big like a dog, like say a skinny Germany Shepherd size dog
I've lived here & don't recall seeing them in broad daylight, running around before - we are some distance from the mountains or the foothills even, they must know it's a protected cemetery & folks with guns aren't likely to be roaming around trying to shoot them
tho there are blank guns shooting off 21 gun salutes for the dead soldiers being buried with honors here at the Nat'l Cemetery






















Ft Logan - by the Admin bldg, across the lake
there is a Coyote running
then he/she passes the flag
it is still at half mast I'm guessing for honoring the dead in Boston

We will see one van load of guys drive up/park/come up to the admin bldg, with civilian clothes on, carrying their uniforms/bags to change into uniform to attend a funeral service/perhaps as the gun salute unit, we don't talk to them, we don't know for sure - we're told the one with the yellow stripe down his leg is a superior officer

We have among our family unit, 1 Army Soldier who has his Class A uniform on & his black super polished jump boots on - he will carry his Grandmother's ashes in an Urn from the hearse to the pavillion stand for the funeral service & then again back, this time, to the car, to be driven by the family to the grave & then he will carry her to the Buddhist reverend who will say a few words over her ashes, then he will again take her to the grave to be placed in the NASA material container, to be sealed up inside, then covered first with our white roses, then the dirt/the earth, then be covered with a board & finally the white flowers, which we will leave there

Link to see what the New Class A Uniforms will look like...
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US-NEW-CLASS-A-UNIFORM.png

At the gravesite we are told our family member's ashes are a lesson
she is teaching us, even as ashes in an urn
we are asked if we have something we want to do in say 20 yrs
in 10 yrs, in a year, in a month, in a week, in a day...
Or some such like this, not word for word
by that time there are tissues, there is weeping, there is hugging
we are all standing in muddy grass, as it's snowed & it's been driven on, dug up by now too

We were also told by the funeral director I think that there should not be more than 6 family members at the gravesite
since at the time there can be say a 100 graves open at a time
really there were no other's open, they were covered in boards or earth
again 2 with flowers already dried up/dead & should be removed soon am hoping
nothing sadder than dried up/dead flowers left at graves

We are still waiting to find out if the nieces/cousins/daughters/grand daughters have figured out how to put the 2 videos together for us all to watch online somewheres

It was also found out later back at the house, an hour away, that the husband/the grand father/the father in law didn't hear a word of the service & is hoping to hear it when it's put on the computer...
he won't wear a hearing aide, the man who couldn't hear his wife clap/bell ring/bike honk/cell phone call during her years with Parkinsons in/out of the hospital/nursing home (with many I'm sure telling him gently hearing aides are not what they use to be) - now to top it off he could not even hear his wife's burial ceremony, but still no hearing aide (this is beyond my understanding...)

Driving back an hour in 2 family cars, I am the one on the cell phone texting the nieces, their daughter, my sister in law/the daughter, nobody thought to stop for food in the car I'm driving in, their car stops for the kid to eat & for gas, I want to be in the car with the girls, there is no music, there is very little talking in the car I am in, there is no celebration of life, again I do not want any of this when I pass...

Denial or is it sadness continues all week, no one will do more than wash some old clothes, return the photos to their photo albums, talk about what dishes the grand daughters might use, what handmade dolls nobody wants, except the traditional dressed Japanese ones, as the rest of the dolls are scary (good for horror movie props perhaps, it's the eyes, that following you kind of thing...perhaps we've watched too many scary movies--we will watch more movies this week than maybe a year's worth per normal weeks...)

We have movies from RedBox, we will get more movies, every night we will watch a movie--we will try to laugh & not cry, we will either cook/clean up for a dinner at the house or go out - it becomes family time, we are together, there is a rare mention of Oh Momma would love this, Momma would say this/do that, Grandma would know...we go to her favorite Sushi Restaurant, Tako, then we go to Poppa's/Grandpa's/The Father in Laws suggestion of a Steak House... by the end of the week, one day for dinner I will eat a container of Greek Yogurt (I'm done, cannot consume anymore full out lunch or dinner...the comfort food is no longer a comfort...)



















We will go out to her fav Japanese/sushi restaurant in town
Tako we're guessing means kite
the servers will ask who is missing
her daughter will have to tell them, that's why we are here
to celebrate her life, to come to her favorite restaurant
we order too much sushi (but then that always happens)

By fateful accident we will go shopping, we will go thru an outside section of a mall into the inside section--we will pass a shop, almost, when I read the name of it, then I recall it's the name of the shop my dear friend works at now...

I will go inside & ask at the cashier counter--Yes, Becky works here...
She will go in the back & bring my friend that I've known for 30 plus years back out front where we will hug & Hug & take photos & get a tour of the store & the family in the car at this point will come into the shop too & there are more hugs, more photos...

She has not seen the Army boy since High School Prom, when she came to the house for a visit to go see New Orleans (aka in her book--the Mardi Gras Epicenter) at the time & she braided his hair for Prom photos...
It's been a long time, her girl now out of the military as is my oldest son but not this youngest son
We see photos of her girl with her husband who is a Marine
Of all the Malls, of all the Shops--I would pass hers...
I think we all needed more Hugs
It's a Small World, it's a Big World

So again some will call it Hell Week (we did have to drive a day & half home again too, stuck in a truck driving thru Nowhere Texas, eating road food 'til you felt like you could Fast for a Week when you got home...) and some will call it Heaven Week--there were a lot of folks went to Heaven that week...

Hugs to all Y'all...oxOX...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Link to Wiki--Yes, even for funeral info there is Wiki...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_funeral

Link to some explanation for Parkinson's...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinson's_disease

Link to the National Parkinson's Foundation...
http://www.parkinson.org/

Link to Zen Center of Denver, CO...
http://www.zencenterofdenver.org/home.aspx
(note: I have been to the Zen Center of Houston, TX...it's where I learned to meditate--not very well, the noise in my head never did stop for very long...but I tried...so when he said meditate at the ceremony, I had an idea what to do...)

Link to Ft Logan National Cemetery - Denver, CO...
http://www.cem.va.gov/CEM/cems/nchp/ftlogan.asp

Link to Available Emblems of Belief (aka Faith/Religion) - some I've never heard of or seen before...
http://www.cem.va.gov/hmm/emblems.asp
(note: Buddhist are allowed to use The Wheel of Righteousness or the Dharma or The Wheel of Life...)

Thumbnail for version as of 17:38, 22 September 2007
Dharmacakra - per Wiki
that the Armed Forces Chaplain would wear as their insignia

Link to Arapahoe County, Colorado - Animal Control - What to do if you see a Coyote...
http://www.co.arapahoe.co.us/Departments/PW/AnimalControl/What%20to%20do%20if%20you%20see%20a%20coyote.asp

Thumbnail for version as of 00:18, 18 September 2005

a Coyote - per Wiki
(note: from a distance, across the lake, the Coyote in the cemetery did not look this good/healthy)

____________________________


1. NEVER feed or throw food at coyotes.
2. Do NOT turn your back on it, ignore it or run away.
3. NEVER try to pet or touch it.
4. NEVER move towards it, or corner it where it can't run away.
5. YELL and make a lot of noise while slowly moving towards other people.
6. Make eye contact and make your self look bigger-raise your arms high, hold up your jacket or backpack.
7. If a coyote moves towards you, throw sticks or rocks towards it, KEEP YELLING.

If a coyote gets too close to you:1. Keep yelling.
2. Punch it.
3. Hit it with your backpack.
_______________________

Link to Sekura Square - Denver, CO...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakura_Square

Link to the Tri State Denver Buddhist Temple...
http://www.tsdbt.org/web/


Home

the first photo in the row, on the left, is the Buddhist Reverend in his black robe
he is the Head Minister at the temple

Link to a Sutra that perhaps was read or in part at the funeral service, in Japanese...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amitabha_Sutra

Link to Japanese Buddhist Funeral Customs...
http://tanutech.com/japan/jfunerals.html

Link to the Dali Lama chanting the Heart Sutra...
http://youtu.be/aMnKHZCcfYA
(note: I don't know what Sutra's the Buddhist Reverend chanted at the funeral service or at the grave site...perhaps the Amitabha Sutra, as I've read both Buddhists in or out of Japan will chant this at funerals...this link however is to a 2 minute Heart Sutra by the current Dali Lama to hear just a sample of what chanting might sound like for those that haven't heard it before...)

namaste
 

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