I suppose you can call my family dysfunctional because the only time we hold successful family reunions is when a relative dies.

Stark, but true. In 1991 not even the ashfall from Pinatubo’s eruption kept us from coming to Manila from all over, to attend my paternal grandmother Purificacion’s wake and burial. In 1996 we all flocked to the Ateneo in Katipunan to pay our respects to my uncle Amando. Tomorrow, Amando’s eldest brother Jesus will be laid to rest. This leaves their two younger siblings Teresita (the aunt who raised me) and Oscar (my dad). Sure enough, my dad is flying in tomorrow. I haven’t seen him since 2002, which was the last time I went to Cebu for my annulment hearings.

Having all these relatives in one place is like stepping into a time warp. I feel both young AND old, seeing all these aunts who have at one time or another, acted as babysitter to tantrum-prone me; and then seeing these nieces and nephews who I last saw as toddlers, now all grown up and with their own families to boot. A young aunt who used to take care of me on weekends just this evening wanted to pull me out from the sidewalk when I stepped out in the rain without an umbrella.

I still haven’t figured out why deaths are a far more effective causal agent for reunions than weddings, for our family anyway. It may seem strange for outsiders observing us from a distance, the joyous smiles on our faces, the repeated bursts laughter. The officiating priest at my grandmother’s burial had observed this quaint behaviour, and had begun his sermon saying he admired our attitudes and how we had accepted with gladness the passing of the grand lady—upon which we all promptly burst into tears.


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6 thoughts on “Reunions

  1. Natawa ako dun sa last sentence mo Bambit. Parang happy family reunion na nga ang nangyayari, and then the priest had to remind remind everyone why you are all there in the first place.

  2. When I was a child of about seven, I could remember that similarly, death in the family seem to effectively bring all the relatives into one place and into one particular time. If I am reminded of those occassions, I could almost smell the thick aroma of brewed coffee permeating throughout and uncles and older cousins noisily banging a table for their domino games. They were supposed to be funerals, but If one becomes mindless for a moment, anyone could have thought that they were fiestas.

  3. hi wats0n, this time nga nag lunch sa max’s sucat ang pamilya after the burial, picture-picture syempre, other people looking on couldn’t tell na galing pala kami ng libing, except maybe for the predominant black and white na mga suot namin. parang nakakahiya . . . but not quite, because it’s one of those very rare times when a lot of us are at one place at one time.

    major tom fiesta mulang? there was one time during my paternal grandfather’s wake (i was in 5th grade at the time) they told me to bring my guitar. Ha?! May patay tapos kakanta maggigitara? Tsk tsk … that was my first exposure to wakes.

  4. there are different ways to accept death naman. di naman porke ngumiti ka na right after may nawala sa buhay mo eh masama ka ng tao…it’s just that sometimes, after the pain and grieve, you just have to go on living…yon nga lang sometimes, faster than what others expect.

  5. bingskee, that’s true, all these relatives you haven’t seen for years and years all of a sudden come out of the woodwork (and for all you know, they think you’re one of those too) and all these childhood memories hit you right smack between the eyes, how this uncle used to tease you until you cried then gave you a chocolate bar so you’d hush up, how this cousin and you used to scratch each other’s eyes when you made harutan. . .

    justice, you’re absolutely right, no one can dictate just how long a period of mourning should be. There are people who mourn for the rest of their lives when a loved one passes, only they mourn in private and turn a smile on everyone else.

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