Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Final Send-Off

For Tom’s final send-off last week, the family decided to engage the services of a mid-size undertaker company. When told, I was quite apprehensive at first because of the adverse publicity with regards to this other type of ‘vultures’ that lurk in hospital corridors and I was not sure if they would actually do a decent and honest job.

Those send-offs that I have attended over the years in Penang, were more often than not, uncomfortable affairs; everything from the aesthetics to the logistics were badly managed and poorly organized and at times, I noticed too, that it was bordering on callousness, leaving the bereaved families more confused and lost. Things were done in a slip-shot manner as the grieving families were too distressed to look into it.

The undertakers swung into action immediately and managed to bring the body home within an hour or so and took over everything that needed to be done. My sis-in-law and my nephews and nieces were too numbed with grief to be able to offer much input. Thankfully, the extended family and some close friends rallied around to help in whatever way they could. To each and everyone of them, we offer our sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude.

The 2 days passed quickly in a flurry of activities – receiving relatives and friends who came to pay their respects, having prayers and chanting sessions and taking turns to stay up throughout the night. And oh, I met many of the relatives and family friends whom I have not seen in ages and as we chatted, we sadly recall that the last time we met was at so-and-so’s passing too or for a couple of others, during happier moments, like somebody’s wedding. As we shook hands and slapped each other’s backs and commented how the kids have grown, how there are now many more lines on the face, about receeding hairlines and of the latest hair-colouring attempts to camouflage the greying on the crown and also of the extra pounds of flab all piled at the wrong places. This is how much we have changed physically and drifted emotionally despite the often-repeated promises to stay in touch which we unfortunately do not keep. Sad huh?

Well, those people I met there were a mixed-bag….the younger and kinda nonchalant group and the older true-blue ‘tradiotionalists’ who have no qualms about ‘sharing’ their ideas of how things should be done. So, when I requested the 6-piece band to play some of Tom’s favourite songs like, ‘Burung Kakak Tua’, ‘Bengawan Solo’, ‘Jacqueline/Yueh Lai Siang’ and a Mandarin number, ‘Wann Foong’, besides others, the second group was mortified. In fact, I also asked a close cousin who was a guitarist/drummer in a band in his heyday, if he wished to throw in a few tunes or hit a few beats, he declined, pleading lack of practice. Tom deserved a joyous and dignified final send-off and while the band played the catchy tunes, we grieved and at the same time, rejoice that Tom is in a better place now.

posted by nyonyapenang at 11:41 AM, |


  At 12:15 PM Blogger U.Lee said:
Hi Nyonya, I'm sure Tom up there must be smiling from your request of his favourite songs.
I can imagine some tapping of feet to the tunes of "burung kaka tua"...I love that song too!
Good for you, Nyonya. Sisters like you don't grow on trees. UL.
  At 1:01 PM Anonymous Jemima said:
For the winter is past, the rain is over & gone.
The flowers are springing up & the time of the singing of the birds has come.
Yes, Spring is here. -Song of Solomon-

That will be what Tom wants & I'm sure he's watching over you & your family members every single day.

  At 1:58 PM Anonymous mott said:
I'm glad you requested that they played your bro's fav songs.
  At 3:25 PM Anonymous zeroimpact said:
To put up with all these needs to be strong and you are one of them, so is everyone in the family
I'm sure he liked all the songs played for him and he will always be in your hearts and his loved ones
Take care!
  At 5:45 PM Blogger may said:
it's a nice touch that you wanted old favourites played rather than the usual tunes. I'm sure he would've appreciated that personal touch.

  At 6:09 PM Blogger aceone118 said:
I'm sure Tom appreciated what you did.

p/s: Nyonya hop over to my blog, something in return for you to see!!
I'm sure Tom would have been pleased, and smiling down on you.
  At 11:12 PM Blogger daniel said:
you know that's how people are and which is so stupid... i've been trying to meet with all my ex classmates... but everyone's so damn busy... then last year when our lecturer got into an accident and passed away... oh there we are... at the funeral night chatting etc... like... we are all so busy but when someone pass away... oh we'll do a small gathering there...
Wah...Tom liked those 'ger tai' or nightclub songs ah?
I'm sure he'll be pleased.
Hi Uncle Lee,'re the first here. A Jack Daniels or Chivas for you? :)

Ya, I'm sure too that Tom was smiling as he watched his kid sister, feet a-tappin', fingers a-snappin' and singing along to some of his favourite tunes.

And thank you for your kind words. You have a nice day, Uncle Lee.

thanks for the meaningful verse and also the kind thoughts. :)

i'm glad too that i requested the songs. :)

thanks so much.
**sayangzzz to you**

ya, it's for him and i know he would be pleased.

hahaha....he certainly would. what kid sister did/say, he'd just smile and nod in agreement. :))

king's wife,
ya, i'm sure he would. he had indulged in his kid sister for the past 40+ years. :)

until we decide to find time to reach out and bond more often, i guess this sad state of affairs will continue.
have a nice day!

cocka doodle,
Tom had always liked those evergreen lively dance numbers...Twist la, Limbo-Rock la, Cha-Cha-Cha, A-Go-Go, Jive, etc.....
Only someone will to him will be able to request such songs. Nyonya, you are a real sis to him ^-^
  At 10:49 AM Blogger ikanbilis said:
may he rest in peace.

*sayang nyonya*
The final sendoff is one of the toughest moments. But that is reality. In life, there is passing.
Tom manja his kid sister a lot....what the kid sis say, goes. :)

**sayangzzz to you too**

las montanas,
as difficult as it was, we take comfort that he has found eternal glory. :)
  At 7:23 PM Blogger Helen said:
Sorry to hear about Tom. :-)

I'm sure fond memories will always stay in the heart of those who knows him.
thank you so much for your kind words.
  At 2:40 AM Blogger angel said:
I curi Moz mya kata-kata hikmah and paste here... Moz, pinjam sekejap...

All souls have a home. It's a place called heaven. And all souls in heaven have a place in hearts of people whom they have touched.

Brother Tom will always stay in your heart...
kamsiah chay-chay.
  At 8:39 PM Blogger zewt said:
hello, thank you for your well wishes in angel's blog. truly appreciate it.

sorry to hear about the passing of your brother? i am fortunate to have a very good funeral planner, they were not the vultures at the ICU... this bunch was recommended by my mom's temple friend.

i hope i have done my best and hope mom will be proud of me and happy that i did gave her a joss stick and carried her remains.
  At 12:15 AM Blogger Chen said:
even though Tom is physically not around, but i'm sure he will always remains in your heart :)
hi zewt,
so kind of you to drop by here. thank you.

i have read all your heartwarming and touching posts and i too feel the tug in my heart. you are son any mother would be proud to have.

take care. my **sayangzzz* to you.