Good Food and Service in Times of Mourning

After I finished work early the previous week, my mother sprung upon me that her first cousin’s wife had passed away and she needed me ready in an hour to go with her and my dad to the funeral. Over a year ago, it was the husband (Mom’s cousin) that succumbed to lung disease. My cousins are now orphans — adult orphans.

I didn’t even have any idea that my aunt was sick because she seemed completely healthy (although old) when I saw her last, which wasn’t too long ago. My mom said it was one of those aggressive cases of cancer — it spread too fast and there was nothing doctors could do about it anymore. Anyway, I was sad to learn that, though thankful as well that her suffering didn’t last long.

The drive to the funeral parlor was short and when we got there, it seemed like we had arrived at a party instead of a funeral. There were so many people from our community, which actually was understandable because my aunt had been the manager of our community movie theatre (the one right beside my house) for decades and, well, our clan is one of the oldest families in our locality. But there was definitely something else that created such an atmosphere — right there in the garden of the funeral parlor was a fancy catering service with a setup for dining.

Delicious food scents permeated the evening air, and straight after I offered my condolences to my cousins and looked at the peaceful remains of their mother, they both insisted that we have dinner like most of the guests were doing when we arrived.

“They really decked out,” Dad remarked about the fancy layout of the garden where guests were eating.

“Level = Asian,” I pointed out…to nobody. My parents had left my side to check out the food selection on the buffet table.

I secured us a table as the caterers filled my parents’ plates with large servings of everything on the table; I didn’t need to eat as I already had at home, but I didn’t say no to the server who offered me drinks and dessert.

As I waited for my parents to rejoin me, I kind of just listened to the conversations around me. Everybody was talking about my aunt and how they were sad at her passing not long after her husband. There were also expressions of concern for my cousins who both had opted out of marriage (I suppose it’s the “thing” in our family). I can tell that despite the somewhat party atmosphere, we all were sad at the death of my aunt and for the loved ones she left behind.

When my parents returned, they reported that the catering service was recommended by the funeral parlor to my aunt’s family so they wouldn’t have to worry about feeding and serving all the sympathizers.

“It’s not a package deal, then,” I said, because I initially thought it was.

“Nah, the funeral parlor has a list of some of the best catering services like The Gourmet Deli Co. 1762 and your sister’s wedding caterer, and they just let the clients choose from the list. Then the funeral parlor coordinates with them for the last night of viewing,” Mom explained.

“A lot of people come on the last night so it’s more convenient to just hire a catering service,” Dad added. “The family’s mourning yet, still needs to esteem guests — it’s a load off their back. I like this fish fillet — it’s not greasy at all. Are you sure you’re just going to have that?”

I snorted at my father then ate the mondo rice cake in front of me.

While I don’t really like thinking of my parents leaving me to go to heaven, my aunt’s funeral had me thinking about my duties as a daughter should that time come. I don’t feel like asking them if they have already set aside money for “that,” so I’m just going to quietly set aside some on my own and not have worry so much about the whole enchilada when “that” actually happens.

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