Monday, January 30, 2012

7th or 8th day...

it is the 8th day in the first month of the lunar calendar and tonight is the night where the hokkiens usher in their new year and pray to the jade emperor. one can expect lots of firecrackers exploding come midnight and open houses.

however, there is no such celebration for us tonight. if you believe in chinese superstition, tonight is the 7th day of my grandma's passing and it is the day when her soul will make a visit to the house. everyone is supposed to act normal and continue with the things they are doing and not show anticipation. i have heard some ppl going to sleep early on this night too, but i doubt they are doing it at home.

i went to work today i bright pink blouse and when i came back, i met my neighbours who passed me some new year goodies and red packets. they said i should not be wearing so bright colour since my grandma has just passed away. but our family do not believe in such thing and i have not been cautioned about it back home. everyone is just going back to their normal life. i think it is better that way.

i have been retelling the events prior to grandma's death and things about the funeral for about 5 times now here today that they feel like one of the natural occurences in life. it is, isn't it?

i am trying to find some time to select the photos of the funeral to be developed and i have to get it done before my brother leaves for aussie. i have also cancelled all my classes at home this weekend. i don't think people are comfortable coming to our house since it is still the chinese new year period.

i am driving the kids to participate in cross country competition tomorrow. so all the mandarin oranges i got today will be passed to them. i have not eaten one at all. maybe i will eat one tomorrow to quench my thirst while waiting for them to finish their run.

well, time to get my sleep before the firecrackers go wild in the night sky.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

to ashes....

this should be the last post on ah ma's passage to the netherworld.

it was on 27 january, friday. 2 cars went up to kampar to collect the bone fragments to be brought to the memorial park in kampar. again, the eldest son must be there.
aunt's maid stayed home to take care of grandpa while we were gone.

we arrived at 9a.m. in kampar as arranged. by that time, whatever was left of grandma were already in 2 pans. the bigger pan was for body bones while the smaller one was for the skull.

everyone took turn to pick up a piece of bone to put in the urn starting with the eldest. we also picked up on behalf of all those who were not present, including those overseas. both hands must be used to transfer the bone into the urn.

after we had done our part, a worker there just poured everything into the urn, with the skull going in last.

the final look before the lid was put on.

sis carrying fruits and cakes for prayer purposes in rawang. luckily everything was prepared and we did not have to do any shopping.

again, the eldest son was to bring the urn to the final resting place.

then we continued our journey to rawang. the rest who did not follow us from tg malim waited at bukit beruntung exit and our convoy became 4-car convoy from there.
this memorial park is visible from the highway after the rawang rest area if you are travelling from south.

we reached the reception area first before going to the niche wall block.

everyone took turn to pray to the deities guarding the place there.

can you find the empty wall? that is a place for 2 urns so grandpa's ashes will be there too when his time came. grandma was the one who went to choose her own resting place in 2007. it had a good view of the highway and the rolling mountains and lakes.
the view in front of grandma's block. very serene and green.

after following the monk's chants and bowings, it was finally time to place the urn in the niche wall.
food offered to ah ma.

oh, we found an old friend of grandparents and my sister friend's parents here in the same block. so i guess ah ma will not be lonely.
the piece of yellow cloth which draped ah ma's coffin was placed together with the urn.

the carvings and words would be completed on the wall in about a month's time. we would be informed by the management but we need not go there to see the installation. they had already shown us a draft at the office.

block f- ah ma's block.

a view of the burial grounds in the memorial park.

2 cousins then left for kl as one of them still had to be at the office while the rest of us headed to a restaurant in bukit beruntung for lunch.

it was a good finale to all the events in the past few days. lou lou lou...the higher the better.

this is ah ma's temporary altar at home now. she will join the other ancestors on the present altar on the 49th day of her passing.

aduhai....some of the postings from my siblings and cousin are making me tear up again. ah ma has been so so long in our life so it is impossible that she will be forgotten.

saturday getaway

we had a short getaway yesterday and it was a fruitful one for everyone since everyone (except uncle) got something home after 12 hours in the malls. yup, 12 hours. i left tm in the big car at 9a.m. and only reached home at 11p.m.

some of the things bought were shoes, clothes, earphone, googles, facial products and purses.

we met with my cousins' aunt (liling) and she bought us lunch at ben's klcc. it was my first time there and i was really impressed. the food selection is good and the portion is big. definitely worth going again next time i am in klcc. now i have another place to eat here.

the adult's table.

the kid's table. lol

here are some of the things we ordered:

nasi istimewa. such big portion. 2 or 3 persons can actually share this meal.

teriyaki salmon.

they have good dessert too. black forest cake and berries pavlova sandwich.

bruschetta, carbonara and wild mushrooms spaghettini. burp.

in the evening, uncle and aunt from kl joined us and after putting all shopping stuff in the car, we walked to pavilion.

the new covered walkway from kl convention centre to bukit bintang is already opened, but it is longer to walk on this walkway than to take the short cut i know. so i guess it will be the first and last time i use this walkway, unless it rains.

the bears are still outside pavilion and there was a throng of ppl here taking photos inside and outside.

pavilion's main entrance.

the dragon chasing after the pearl greeting everyone in the main lobby. magnificent.

we had our dinner at lot 10 hutong and it was like feast time again. ice kacang, tau fu fa, scallop congee, fried dough fritters, hokkien noodles, wat tan hor, chicken rice, barbeque pork rice, pan mee, char keow teow, bak kut teh, barley dessert, and fishball noodles. phew!

the drive home was really an exhausting and and everyone slept like a log that night.

i will be going back to bidor. uncle and family will fly back to aussie on monday while on tuesday, it will be sis's turn. the house is going to be quieter and things will be slowly back to if it is not normal now. well, life goes on.

Friday, January 27, 2012

the sending off

it was time to send off grandma in this post. the date was 26 january 2012 and the time was 10a.m.

we were all to be ready by 8a.m. and the house was bustling with everyone here and there getting ready amidst the daze of still not having enough sleep.

uncles from slim river bought breakfast of roti canais but we hardly had time to eat because guests started coming at 8a.m. too.

the first group to arrive was none other than grandpa's best friend, the tans.

mr tan had to converse with grandpa via the small whiteboard because of grandpa's deafness. he is actually older than grandpa but very much stronger. i over heard grandpa saying that he thought he would leave earlier than grandma and also that he staying in the house was useless while grandma would still be of use. gosh... i choked inside when i heard that. it would be hard to communicate with grandpa but i hope he could feel our love and care for him in the house.

when the crematorium caretaker and undertaker came, we were all rushing through our breakfast. we all stood at the kitchen table, all of us- the grandchildren, stuffing as much roti canai as we could into our mouth and chewing and swallowing because we knew lunch would definitely be later than usual. it was quite a funny scene.

when we were ready, we all gathered around grandma's coffin and it was time to perform the final rites before the coffin was closed. it was quite an emotional scene and everyone was teary.

in this photo, you can see grandma being covered with a 'blanket' bought my aunt which was to be burnt with her. it could only be bought by a daughter who is married. grandma looked so peaceful and at peace under the blanket.

then grandaunt's son taught showed us how we could say our final farewell to grandma. we kissed our fingers and placed it on grandma's forehead in a gentle pat. it was really emotional as everyone took turns to do it. i was standing at the foot of the coffin snapping away with my camera while tears streamed down my face.

then we were to leave the living room as they were closing the coffin. we had to turn our backs too as they wheeled the coffin out so as not to make grandma miss us or feel sad for leaving us.

then the coffin and the prayer tables were put on the road outside the house for the final prayers.

all the flower wreaths were also placed outside.

time to do some final prayers before the sending off. it included bowings, kneeling and circling the coffin.

circling the coffin.

going into the house to place the joss sticks at the temporary grandma's altar we have placed next to the main prayer altar at home.

then after a short break, it was time for guests to pay last respect to grandma while we all stood next to the coffin. first was the lim clan, then the chew clan (grandma's side), followed by relatives by marriage, members of associations and finally neighbours and friends.

we bowed back as gratitude to guests who came.

then my camera's battery was exhausted and my neighbour stepped in with her dslr and took over the photography duty. bless her. she even followed us all the way to the crematorium with her husband. it was totally not planned.

the coffin was wheeled into the hearse and all tables were taken away and the wreaths too. the group managing the funeral was really professional and fast in their duties so we really had an easy time.
the eldest son was to lead the way.

this is the hearse which the eldest son would later sit in to accompany the coffin to the crematorium while the rest of us followed in a bus.
the convoy following the coffin out all the way till the main road of our housing area. i was tearing up again here thinking that it would be the last time grandma walk out of our house and i was not the only one. i heard sobbing around me...and i shall not name them here.

this photo was taken from the bus, we used the highway to go to kampar.

we reached in less than 90 minutes due to clear traffic.

it wasn't straight to the crematorium. we had to burn more joss sticks at the reception area of the burial ground and they let us go for toilet break. phew!

this place is after temoh and before kampar on the right hand side if you are travelling north.

the bus they chartered for us. really comfortable and clean.

grandma's coffin already in the furnace ready for burning.

a monk performing the rites before the burning.

each of us held a burning joss stick and one unlit joss stick to place in front of the coffin. the ashes of the joss sticks were collected and put into a red packet and then poured into the urn which was used to place joss sticks at the memorial park the next day.

after placing the joss sticks, it was time to walk over a burning pan of gold paper. i think it is for the purpose of cleansing. we were also told to dip our hands into a bucket of water filled with flowers and run our fingers through our hair with wet hands to bring us luck after the solemn affair.

all backs turned away from the furnace as they lit it. we did not hear anything behind us, only the chanting of the monk and the sounds of bell. the vibrant colour tee shirts we brought to change were placed on our right shoulder. i do not know what that signifies.

after that, everyone got a red packet each and took a bite of the cake used for prayer. it was also meant for luck.

the 2 elder sons led the group to leave the place. everything was over then. the bones and ashes were to be collected the next day. again, the eldest son must be there.

everyone in their colourful tees posing for a group photo. yes, everyone who came was in the photo.

we headed to a restaurant in tg malim for lunch after that. everyone was famished and all dishes vanished from the table in minutes.

that was the end of ah ma's funeral.

the house was spick and span when we returned from kampar thanks to mom's relatives who mopped and swept and rearranged the furniture and also brought the dog out from the back to the porch. it was as if nothing had happened in the house when we returned because everything was back at their places just like before ah ma's passing. it made it so much easier to accept.

*everyone is taking a break tomorrow and most of us will head to klcc and pavilion to do some shopping. so don't worry about us not being able to accept it. we are coping really well and supporting each other. thank god for close relationship with aunts, uncles and cousins.