Last week, my Uncle Dan passed away. On what would have been his 83rd birthday, his family buried him. The funeral was a Buddhist ceremony. Uncle Dan has 4 adult children, 8 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter. At the funeral, my cousins (his children) and I were asked if any one of us could translate what the Buddhist monk was saying to English for the non-Vietnamese speakers. Dumbfounded, we all looked at each other. Uncle Dan's oldest child, my oldest cousin, said he was the only one that could speak Vietnamese in his family but his Vietnamese was at an elementary level. Then they all turned to me. I said I can speak Vietnamese well but I don't know if I can translate the true meaning of the monk's words to English without compromising their meanings. Stalemate. Then in come my uncle Gary. Uncle Gary is my uncle Dan's friend for over 60 years. Uncle Gary said he could translate the monk's meaning to English but was worried his emotions would overwhelm him . He just lost his best friend. So with desperation, uncle Gary was our translator.
He actually did a terrible job but he was so cute. You can tell the monk's words were getting to him. He started to lose focus as tears blurred his concentration. He couldn't get words out and I hand motioned and mouthed a few words to him. Afterwards, he came over to me in the front row to apologize for his poor performance. I assured him he did fine as he performed a job that none of us could have done. Still not convinced, he took his seat.
It's funny at funerals. People are usually so sad at first then as the day goes on, you see more happiness. My dad was talking and laughing as he mingles with attendees and checks in on his distraught sister, my newly widowed aunt. A lot of my relatives from both sides of my families were there. We all talked and met one another (again). Some I haven't seen in decades and others, I simply have not met. They came from all over the world. It was a touching moment when I realized how loved my uncle was. What he accomplished in death was an almost impossible feat in life. He brought us all together to celebrate his life. He was never an attention seeker but he got all of our attention.
By the time I left, my heart was not as heavy as it was in the morning. I was actually happy to see and meet a lot of my relatives. Isn't it ironic how it takes a death in the family to bring people together? I wonder why we can't just do it when most of us were alive? I guess mortality humbles us all to make time for each other, no matter how short.