Yesterday evening about 6:00 -6:15pm (I’m not sure), “Ah Po” breathed her last and stepped into the Loving Arms of Jesus. I don’t really know what to feel at this point it’s still sinking in. We expected this more later than sooner since she was doing better than in the Hospital a couple of months back. It’s still sudden. When is death predictable?
Rushed. Traffic. Arrangements. Phone-calls. Everything happens so quickely when it comes to “death”. The coffin. The chairs & tables. Food. Informing loved ones. There’s only “pockets” of moments when one can hear “how she died.” (The final hours I was told a couple of Aunties and Uncles and A cousin was around.) They fill us with the details. Then as people come – conversations begin. We “philosophize” to help us go through every minute.
Me? I’m the Pastor of the family. A cousin said to me “Lei gao dim ga le.” -Translated from cantonese .. “You can handle the rest” (meaning the memorial and burial. Never could I imagine, just last year I conducted GrandMa’s Baptism, and now her Memorial and Funeral.
For me, some stuff just came to mind. Maybe this will be my sharing tomorrow night at the service. Today, thankfully Bishop Chang is helping in the sharing.
1. “The Chinese Soya Sauce Fish” she cooked.
No one could copy it at all. Even my “chef-extraordinaire” mom! My mind goes back to when i was 12 and I spent about six months staying with her during standard six in Mun Yee school. It was a good experience. We listened to the chinese folk story “Monkey God” on Redifussion every night. We watched the Hong Kong VHS series “Mo Jak Tin” (about the first Chinese Emporess). She took care of me and my cousin for a short time. I don’t know whether you can consider us close. But there was somehow a “connection”.
Well, the point is she’s a unique as she can be with her trademark Brand 555 cigarretes (BTW, she quit it at will later). She’s God’a Creation. One and only and each of our experience whether son, daughter, Grandchildren and Great-grandchildren and Great-great-grandchildren, etc was unique. I believe the final two years of her life was fullest. Especially, when Christ graced her final year. her baptism enhanced her uniqueness with the fragrance of Jesus.
2. “Look! Hsiao Ming my hands are so smooth” she told me in the Hospital and at Home.
We laughed. Even when she was weakest, she could still find something nice to talk about (appreciating little stuff). Even though her body was “fading away”, we talked about her smooth hands. Quite a feat actually for someone who has been a butcher and I’m sure it wasn’t a smooth going life. In the midst of this “fading” – she still found a treasure … Apostle Paul’s Words come to mind “I am weak but You are strong!” Strength and Joy can still be found in weakness and suffering.
3. “I’m ready to go …”
We talked about death in the hospital. I asked her what she was thinking, she told me she was just thinking about the old days, and I think she was kind of re-playing the memories and different episodes. She was letting go some stuff (I guess) and getting ready (in some way – which I don’f fully grasp).
But she was not ready to go in the “Hospital” – a place marked by sickness, doctors, nurses, medicine bottles. Nope. I think she found she was more “ready” (and I guess God thought so too) to go at “HOME” – her place of safety, her place of rest. Jesus before he returned to the Father, said he has prepared a place for us. We can feel safe now and … later when the time comes.
Time to STOP … a while and … MOVE ON slowly …
We don’t have time to be ready. We’re too busy. But, at this funeral and memorial .. we’re given a chance to “reflect” (kind of get ready a bit more). “Ah Po’s” Life has become a mirror for me – like many of the funerals I’ve attended (this more personal). No one can be 100% ready (IMHO), but it’s never too late to begin. It was never too late for “Ah Po” to begin her journey with Christ. There’s so much we don’t know about life after death, apart of bits and pieces God allows here and there in the Scriptures… But’s it’s enough to give me hope and assurance that all will be well. Right now, we know more baout what kind of life we want to carry on to “that place”. For, me that’s something we can immediately be part of – i.e. a different kind of life. A life which is a “Journey with Jesus” … the promise is “I will be with you until the end” – The Final chapter is not death … it’s life forever in His presence! A place where we encounter God’s perpetual smile and we can smile back …
the last picture I have of Grandma (who’s with May Chin and Gareth – her latest great-grand addition) can you see her smile? her joy? I sure can …