Friday, April 14, 2006

Just came home from seeing Uncle Cham off at the crematorium.

We began the day early, collecting parents and SMA from their home to meet the rest of the clan at the Casket company. We had a short little service in our designated room, then went back down to street level where we trudged behind the hearse for a short distance as a sign of respect to the dearly departed. The sky above was full of gathering clouds and there was a light breeze behind us. Uncle Cham's favourite (Italian) opera music played softly from the hearse speakers and the whole scene felt like a John Woo movie sans any violent interruption.

There was another short service at the crematorium. 1st time I've visited the place. It's design is calming and tranquil, as it should be. Very clean environs, lots of running water and little goldfish (instead of huge, ungainly, koi) swimming in geometrically shaped pools. Immediately above the long escalator leading up from the basement parking lot is a skylight so if you raise you head a little while riding the escalator, it sort of gives the sensation of ascending into the heavens.

Our family has a light manner in dealing with funerals, but in this setting it was difficult not to be slightly moved. The service in the chapel room was... what's a word that suggests seriousness yet not quite sombre or solemn... reflective? But in the viewing gallery where we got to watch him take his last ride into the furnace, we played Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma*' on a portable stereo we brought and the music really brought out the drama and the finality of what we were witnessing, particularly as the furnace doors shut just at the crescendo, followed by silence for us to close our own psychological doors on another chapter in the history of our little clan.

After our last goodbyes, we made one more stop on the way out of the crematorium. A gathering/resting area where we refreshed ourselves and socialized once again. Made plans for dinner, reuniting us with our kin who flew in from Manchester (actually, Kit & family were already here on vacation when this unexpected turn of events occurred), London and Honolulu.

Life, as they say, goes on.

*BTW, this translates as "no one is to sleep." We played it because it was his favourite, not because there was any deep significance to the music. It just so happened to suit the occasion.

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