Blazer: Zara | Top: Supersale Bazaar | Yellow Skinnies: Dorothy Perkins | Bag: Balenciaga | Heels: SM Parisian | Watch: Rolex | Ring: Charriol | Necklace: Bvlgari
My birthday this year was quite different, so to speak. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you’re most likely aware that my Angkong (paternal grandfather) passed away 2 days shy from my birthday. We all knew it was coming somehow–like an unspoken truth: imminent and niggling at the back of our minds. He’s had several close calls over the past few months after all, and yet, to our surprise, he soldiered on. That’s the thing about my grandfather, he loved putting people in awe; he was also born a fighter–strong-willed, and tough as nails.
Let me tell you something about death… you can never be fully prepared for a loved one’s passing. Yes, regardless of the situation.
On October 3rd (the day of my birthday), we had our Angkong cremated (as per his request). Prior to his cremation, all the eldest grandchildren from each second-generation family was tasked to give a eulogy. I never thought I’d be giving eulogies, ever. Then again, I never thought I’d be anything but calm and composed while speaking to a huge crowd of close friends and family too. I’m going to spare everyone my speech–I only want to focus on the multitude of feelings and realisations I came across during the entire ordeal.
So you know how they say that right before you die, your life flashes before your eyes? Something like that happened while I was reading my speech (one that I crafted during the homily of his last mass). All memories of my grandfather started assaulting my mind in full force: the good, the bad, and the ones you take for granted. I pretty much ugly-cried the entire 7-minutes I was on the podium, but that was an isolated occasion.
Afterwards, we brought his lifeless body to the crematorium and we surrounded him in a tight-knit circle, each taking turns to bid him farewell. The atmosphere was palpable. Almost everyone was crying (my uncle and aunt, both of which were bull-headed in nature)… and I say “almost” because my father had to withhold his tears as he projected the facade of a strong man to set an example to his siblings, acting eldest and all (it’s a Chinese thing). I looked at Angkong, kissed his forehead goodbye (it was extremely cold), and held his hand one last time… and I remembered that I used to hold his hands during family dinners in restaurants so he wouldn’t have a difficult time walking. Then I looked at his shoes and realised they were the ones he always wore (a two-decades old Bally pair), and that they would be reduced to ashes just like him.
The gravity of that idea, you know… removing a fixture of your life just like that. It’s hard to come to terms with. It’s very hard, and though I have no choice but to accept reality, I can’t help but feel melancholic whenever I think of all our times together.
After 3 hours or so, we had to go down to examine his ashes, and per Chinese customs, we had to fish out “green bones” from the mound to be included in his urn, for good luck or some such (all the discarded ones would be pulverised and included as well). I went to look at his bones and on the side, I saw his dentures, and the funny thing is, I never thought I’d cry over anyone’s dentures. Well, I didn’t at that moment–I was probably all cried-out but when I do remember, I still get pretty upset.
Everything after that was a blur. My cousin wanted to take me out to salvage the last few hours of my birthday, but it was moot at that point. Also, largely inappropriate.
I’m not upset that my grandfather’s wake coincided with my birthday, don’t get me wrong. I am proud of the fact that I get to celebrate my birthday at the very same moment we were celebrating the life he lived–and what a life that was. I will miss my Angkong… I will go home to Cebu in the next few days and it will be sad knowing I won’t see him at the dining table but I guess it’s a part of growing up… saying “good bye” and “setting free” the things and people you love.
On my 27th year, I vow to live a life he would be proud of.
That said, apologies for the abrupt hiatus. I have quite a few pending posts for sponsors and clients. I will be wearing lots of white moving forward as a sign of mourning but hey, who says white can’t be fashionable?