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We All Shed [Aug. 4th, 2014|05:39 pm]
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As posted on Facebook:


In the Philippines there is a cultural tradition of forty days of mourning after a death. There is usually a black rectangular pin worn on the lapel or collar for the duration.

I didn't have one, but I did have a black mourning cross an aunt made for the family when my maternal grandfather died. It's hard to keep wearing it though-- for one thing, it's rather flimsy, being a couple years old and not meant for long use. For another, the plant I work in disallows any personal jewelry, including wedding rings.

Still I wanted to mark his passing somehow, and I decided to abstain from cutting my hair and shaving for forty days to honor him. Convenience aside, it's a practice that has a pretty rich and ancient lineage spanning several disparate societies. Maybe I'll actually read about it someday.

On Saturday my wife cut my hair, and I took off the 'stache. It corporealized a feeling I've had in the past few weeks: that of an age or an era passing, and a chapter in a book closed.

With my father at rest, I no longer have any compelling interests in the Philippines. That sounds colder than it actually is; of course, I'll have plenty of reasons to want to go back someday, such as the desire to have my wife see my hometown, or to let my son and daughter learn more about their own ethnic heritage. My best friend and his family still lives there, and I have no shortage of family, friends and acquaintances to visit in every main island.

But those would be visits of desire. Nothing ties me there anymore. All of my blood family is here now. I have lived here for ten years, seven of them as a citizen of this nation, but always with that cloud over my head, that I would have to return to the Philippines from time to time for something or another. Have to. I have to no longer.

Now it feels like I can finally take root.


[User Picture]From: lirazel
2014-08-05 08:40 pm (UTC)
I was wondering when we'd hear about your father. I'm glad you got to spend some time with him a while ago.

For me, losing my father was hard. He was a good father and a good man and we were very close. But my mother was still with us. I was still someone's child. I had her living presence to consult with and disagree with.

When she died, it was as though the last protective layer had been peeled off the world. I'm next.

(BTW, my cousin Jess, who you encountered on my journal, is watching her father dies, very slowly, of Parkinson's. Which may explain a certain prickly quality.)

Anyway, welcome to your old home! Grow tall and deep.
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[User Picture]From: mads
2014-08-05 10:50 pm (UTC)
My father tried to be a good man and tried to be a good father. If nothing else, was worth honoring, then there was that at least.

And your cousin really is neither obnoxious nor prickly. I do tend however to skirt things on the safe side, seeing as among our online peers (to my perception anyway), us religious types of any bent are firmly in the minority. And she has my prayers-- that situation is hard on anyone.
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