My Uncle’s Funeral

It’s been almost a month since my uncle died.

The failure of his liver dragged out over two years, and finally ended in a dramatic final week in hospital. The last couple of days were terrible, but I suspect we had it easy as a family–there was no hope for recovery, so it was a matter of hoping for the least amount of pain, and that was resolved with drugs (when the doctors eventually got the dosage right). Mommy and my sister had it the worst–everything happened on their watches (also they had the most watches).

The funeral was an eye-opener for me–a three day Buddhist event full of bowing, incense, praying and entertaining. We did it at with Casket Fairprice at their funeral parlour, which turned out to be a lot more quite comfortable than having it at a HDB void deck (there was air conditioning). A lot more people showed up than I would have expected for my uncle, who was, to most, a bachelor and a pauper.

I suppose funerals and wakes are more to appease the living and to announce the death to society at large, but I thought it was a little sad that none of his friends came. Not that any of us knew who his friends were, other than the other old folks whom he shared his time with at the local kopitiam, so there was really no way for us to let them know about the funeral. I wonder if he had any past lovers or friends who might have shed a tear for him.

I was never close to my uncle. I have photos of him holding me as a baby, but little recollection that we spent much time together afterwards. For one, my Cantonese is almost as bad as his English was, so communication never progressed beyond the typical “are you eating well” and “study hard” platitudes. Given their age gaps, Mommy was also not as close to him as siblings could be, so she displayed little affection towards him to rub off on us. Her general prickliness towards houseguests also made his visits short and succinct, which didn’t make for much interaction.

While I’m not particularly upset over his passing, it has left me wondering about the potential similarities in my life. Whether any of the friends I’ve made along the way would show up at my funeral (my sister suggested that notification was a simple matter of getting my phone and doing a mass-broadcast over facebook). I’d like to think that my death could warm some seats, though whether any lashes would be wet is uncertain. I always did love more broadly than deeply.

Uncle left behind a bunch of antique coins, which he claimed to be worth a pretty penny. I have no doubt that, in the hands of a collector, they might be, but for now they sit, orphaned, in my brother’s old room at Mommy’s. With a bit of luck perhaps she might get into it as a hobby–though I suspect the memory of her brother will haunt her every time she looks at them and spoil the experience.

Will I leave behind anything other than a gigantic stash of porn and some occasional scribblings on a blog?