Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today's Funeral

****This is also published on Facebook****

I went to my aunt's funeral today. She was in her 80s and sick. I was able to make a sloppy connection with my extended family but it felt like we were reaching for each other while wearing blindfolds during our conversations. On the way to the church I found myself in the middle of an inexplicable panic. I calmed myself by listening to "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Simple Twist Of Fate" in my car. I feel sad and drained.

I kept fiddling with my Ray Bans and wondering how inappropriate it would be to wear them in the church. I finally put them away. When I walked in, I gave my cousin Fred a wave. He was crying a little. At my uncle's funeral, he and I had shared a close moment when we sat side by side and both burst into tears. He had shared his tissues with me. We've never been close at all; he and my brother were the ones who grew up together.

My father was reading the obituary. My aunt was his older sister. I slid into the pew at the back of the church. My father has a very straightforward delivery consistent with his personality. I hoped the flower shop I recommended to him in the Castro came through. The specter of my family's internment during WWII came alive in all the older Japanese folks sitting in the pews as my Dad talked being sent to camp in Arkansas. I cringed inwardly upon hearing those facts as I always do.

Afterwards, I got lost on my way to the restaurant. I drove around looking for the freeway entrance and ended up by the Cow Palace then on Mission St. then somewhere else. I wasn't worried. My family teased me when I walked into the restaurant but I told them there was nothing wrong with driving around the City because I live here. I didn't know exactly what I meant by that but they seemed to understand.


anne said...

MT, I am sorry to learn of your aunt's passing. I am sure she is comfortable and pain-free whereever she is now.

You are only the second person that I know who had family at the Japanese internment camps. My friend Steve tells of his father's experiences in the camp... It still resonates with him that American citizens' right were so cruelly violated! Steve was very worked up after 9-11, wondering if all people with Middle Eastern ethnic ties would be rounded up like the Japanese were.

I hope the day was more a celebration of your aunt's life than a day of mourning.

Mock Turtle said...

Anne - Thank you for your kind condolences.

I don't usually talk about my family's internment. It's such an uncomfortable subject to think about because it happened here in the U.S. I also had the same worry as your friend Steve after 9/11 though I never mentioned it to anyone.

One of the most compassionate conversations I've had on the subject was with none other than our mutual friend, B1-66er. He was both curious and respectful about it. Sometimes I wish we were still talking.

The day was definitely more celebration but it was still difficult. I'm doing better now.