Monday, May 07, 2007

The Funeral

Part of me was afraid to tell people about the funeral. I was so afraid that no one would bother to come. After all, it was in the Bronx. People from Queens and Long Island are afraid of that part of the city. Boy was I wrong. There must have been over 100 people at the chapel, mostly friends of mine. Lots who have met my parents over the years and really liked them. Friends of my dad's showed up too. He didn't think anyone would. Most of his friends are gone. Many are too old to get there. My Aunt had some of her friends show up too. Cousins came. Even my sister had a friend there. (She has lots of friends, they just all live in Texas.) Her children and husband arrived last night so my dad was surrounded by family. The service was beautiful. The Rabbi did a wonderful job, explaining everything and saying all the right words. I read my eulogy and California Guy's adapted poem. My sister read a letter that my mom had written to us three years ago and left with my dad to read after she was gone. The Rabbi said that it was much better to be eulogized by people that love you than strangers. I agree. I did same thing for my mother-in-law when she died a few years ago. I loved my mom so much. I had to be one of the ones to wish her a formal good bye. I even looked inside the casket to make sure that it was my mom inside--something I never thought I could do. (Jews used closed caskets--there is no viewing)

To me the cemetery is the worst part. I fall apart when I watch the coffin being lowered into the ground. It is so dark and so cold. The thought of never seeing the sun again is just too awful to bear. My mom is buried next to my dad's dad. At first I thought we should leave that spot for my dad and put her one over. Then I thought why should she be alone. Better to be next to someone who loves her than to be alone for years. Jews "bury" their own. That is, we take the shovel and throw dirt on the casket until you can't see it anymore. Really religious Jews fill in the entire whole, using every drop of dirt. We are not that religious. We just covered the top. When I had the shovel, I just kept going and going. I wanted to be the one to help my mom. I continued until someone stopped me. The reason behind this is simple. In life, we do a favor and expect someone else to do a favor in return. Burial is the final favor that cannot be returned. My dad cried, but he was not as bad as I expected. We were afraid he would try to jump in the grave with her. My aunt couldn't even bring herself to pick up a shovel. That was fine too.

After the funeral we all went back to my dad's house. He lives in Co-op City in the Bronx. Parking is almost impossible. Again, I thought no one would come but I was wrong. We had a house full of people for hours. My dad is really on edge. He was screaming at everyone for the littlest things. We are all used to him yelling at my sister, but, when he got on my daughter (his pride and joy) and my husband (who he loves as much as he loves me) we knew he was in really bad shape. In spite of this, I still think he might be okay in the end. My dad is friendly, but he doesn't have a lot of friends. He keeps everyone on the outside. In spite of this neighbor after neighbor stopped by to see him. Many of these people are old, and have been living years without the spouse they loved. Many were of different races and nationalities. They all expressed love and care for my dad and it is my hope that these people will give him the strength to go on.

Last night was bad. My sister had to go to the airport at midnight to pick up her kids. My dad called me hysterical at 1:30 saying "No one is here. They all deserted me. I'm all alone. We are burying your mother tomorrow and your sister is missing." I managed to calm him a little and got my sister on the phone to get back to him to calm him down. Now that is over, he might be okay. I hope so. I love my dad and want to help him start living his life again.


CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

"Burial is the final favor that cannot be returned."

And you were able to extend this favor. Blessings on you, my friend.

Sweet Girl Tracie said...

I was at the apartment for the shiva. Your dad shared with me the story about 'his favorite pair of shoes'.