Thursday, March 4, 2010


"Death is not extinguishing the light from the Christian; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come." - Author Unknown/Rabindranath Tagore
My 97-year old Baba died February 15th. She went so peacefully, so quietly, we barely knew she had gone. Despite my wish that she live long enough for my kids to remember her, it is a blessing that she lived long enough for me to know her in my adult years.
I designed this prayer card to go with the thank you card the family is giving out.

And this written by my dad for our family living abroad:

Mommy died at about 3:15a.m. of Monday, February 15, shortly after her 97th birthday.

Mommy died as peacefully as anyone can hope for.

When she got sick about a week ago, we all sensed that this would be her final episode and we all agreed with Francis that she would be happier dying at her home.

She had round-the-clock nurses and a doctor who was God-sent who attended to her as needed. We told the doctor that mommy had earned her peace and rest and the paramount consideration was her comfort. At the end, we just wanted to be sure that her pain was minimal. Almost up to the time she died, mommy was responsive, to the extent that she could, given her age and physical condition.

Mommy died at the home she cherished surrounded by her children and grandchildren in an atmosphere of intense love. She did not go through the throes of death - she just faded away and we did not really know when she had gone.

CBC and IdB cleaned and dressed her; and FdB, PdB and me (sic) lifted her into her coffin. Her body was not touched by anyone other than her family and nurses.

From her home, the hearse brought her to Benedictine church at 6:30 a.m. for the funeral mass. FdB rode with the hearse and she was never left alone. She lay in wake until the 3 p.m. mass. By that time the church, which is fairly large, had filled up (The wonders of text messaging). Ten Benedictine priests - her friends, who all referred to her as Mama Letty - offered the mass for her. We did not ask them, they just came - even the ones who were quite sick. The main celebrant gave a short homily. There was no hyperbole. Just simple anecdotes of how she was as a person. PdB, on his own volition, gave a short talk where he mainly thanked the siblings who attended to mommy's needs. FdB and I were fidgety about this and I kept signaling PdB to keep his composure and not get carried away.

Mommy's passion and career was classical music and CBC had arranged for the Madrigal singers to sing in church and at the burial. They gave a powerful performance and their "Our Father" was moving, perhaps as good as the one I heard about that you sang for mommy.

The services ended at 4:00 p.m. FdB rode the hearse again and we were at Manila Memorial Park by 4:30 p.m. Mommy was laid to rest at 5:00 p.m. (In typical dB fashion, no tears were shed except perhaps by my Ana whose eyes welled-up with tears.) She was placed in the same grave as daddy at the primary area of the family plot. Their burial place is a grassy private enclave that is gated and surrounded by a tall hedge on all 4 sides. Mommy and daddy are buried at the center of the far end of this green open space.

Mommy had a beautiful death. She must be ecstatic about how her body was treated for the burial preparation. And her final rites were solemn and sanctifying.

The death of a last parent is so profound that it is really the passing of an era for the children.

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