See you Lolo Eli…

February 17, 2009

Last Sunday at 11AM, my wife’s grandpa was cremated at Loyola Guadalupe.  His children and grandchildren were all there – except for those who did not make it from overseas.  Mama, Wifey’s mom was the eldest among the siblings.  I could still remember some of the Lolo Eli anecdotes she shared with us when she was still alive.

The cremation took close to two hours and we whiled away the time talking to the younger cousins from the second family Lolo had during his younger days.

It was my second time to be inside a crematorium.  The first one was wayback when I was a ministerial trainee for a church in Manila.  The lady who died was the secretary of our small group for the elderly.  When she was cremated, I was requested to help put her inside the machine.  It was something I was not totally prepared to do, and the image of which, stayed with me for a long time.

When the cremains were presented to all of us, many were surprised that the cremains were white in color.  People naturally assumed that the cremains would have a black color – but the body being cremated is not exposed to the flames but to the intense heat, approx 1600 degrees that easily reduce the body to the bones.

There was something strangely comforting when I saw Lolo’s cremains.  I told my wifey at breakfast that it was more positive for me rather than seeing a casket being hoisted down the hole.  While funeral gives the whole experience a sense of finality, I sensed a stronger sense of acceptance and finality when I saw Lolo’s cremains.

We proceeeded to the old Makati Cemetery, where we learned that body funerals were no longer being done there.  But his cremains were allowed to be buried because it would only occupy a box measuring 14 X 14 inches on top of his older relative’s grave.

While seeing the cremains made it strangely comfortable, the sight, smell of the old Makati Cemetery was downright depressing.  Bordered by the International School on one side and a new set of condos being built on the other, the MAKATI cemetery looked very forgotten.  There was even a growing community of people who made permanent residence of the graves and other small mausoleums of the deceased.

I did not even wait for the whole cementing of the box to be finished. I made my way back to the car where wifey, Lola and Tito Al were waiting. I earlier discouraged them to go inside the cemetery for hygiene and sanitary reasons.  I slowly felt my spirit getting overwhelmed by the sadness of the place where Lolo’s cremains were placed. I am not at any liberty to explain but it was not the intended place to become Lolo’s final resting place.

Here in the Philippines, they have started discouraging the spreading of the cremains.  Unlike in the US where designated spots have been allowed for cremains to be spread.  That would have been ideal for Lolo Eli.

It would have been better if we were allowed to spread his cremains at some poignant spot, where the serenity of the place, could magnify the beauty of the life of the dearly departed.

Lolo Eli, we will be seeing you.

Now you know, as you have always been,  loved and known by Christ

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