**Note : This is strictly a conversation between my kids and I. It has nothing to do with being disrespect to other faiths or your traditions. My kids had been through a lot of things that many of you haven’t been through like the burials of two grandmas and the cremation and scattering the ashes of their baby brother. So, if you find what I am going to write disrespectful, appalling or whatever, I don’t really care.**
A short background : April 5th is Ching Ming. All the Chinese families will honour their deceased ancestors at graves and columbarium. They can do it 10 days before and 10 days after Apr. 5th. I was the head of the Loh’s family in carrying out this tradition as an obedience to my mother-in-law when she was still alive.
Conversation I had with my kids :
5xmom and 5xdad discussing date to hold Ching Ming.
#2 son : Mom, we should start conserving land.
5xmom : Why? No rain? (thought I heard conserving water)
#2 son : Nolah, they used up all the land liao.
5xmom realised he is referring to the five (5) graves we had to go each year. Ideas start pouring in and smirks.
5xmom : Yaya, throw into the sea or feed the maggots.
#2 son : Yalah, go and burn-burn and throw into the sea
5xmom : Noleh, pollute the sea like dat. Hah! I got better idea, we use as organic planting materials.
#2 son : We go buy a house with backyard? (now staying in apartment)
5xmom : Yaya, what plant you want to plant with my ashes?
#2 son : Mango tree?
5xmom : No, no durian tree better
Mother and sons laughing.
Frankly, after the death of my son, I do not care about Ching Ming anymore. It is not that I am not bothered about my own parents and in-laws. But generally, all of us bereaved mothers have this reluctance to go to graves to honour our elders when we know that our hearts ache for someone else. It is a natural acceptance that our parents will die one day. But it is NOT a normal order of things for mothers to live longer than their children. I had not been to any Ching Ming for the last 3 years. The only person who still go is my atm and my #3 son.
Last year, I was ‘lucky’ to be spared of going to the graves because my Matthew was hospitalised for some mild viral infection. I pray that I do not have to go through this ritual this year. Hopefully, I got lau-sai (diarrhoea)or something. Selfish and silly? Maybe.
While passing by the shops selling paper shoes and paper clothes, I have a certain deja vu feelings. My kids used to buy lots and lots of things for their beloved grandmas (more for my mother who used to take care of them). It is not easy for me to guide little children to adapt to their new faith. The older two kids are ok and can differentiate their previous and current faiths. But for my #3, I have to make sure he is coached with the least hostility.
5xmom : David, do we still need to buy those things?
#3 son : No…
5xmom : Why?
#3 son : Got plenty of things in Heaven liao, no need for us to provide.
5xmom : Yeap, clever boy. It is an all expenses paid holiday, Ah Mah don’t need you to buy airtickets and passport anymore, right? God provides.
5xmom : What did you do up the hill (graves) last year, you remember? (he was the only one who went up the hill)
#3 son : Yeah, I went up the hill to play fire.
5xmom : If your aunties give you joss-sticks, what do you do?
#3 son : Tell them I am a Christian?
5xmom : Yes, but what must you do?
#3 son : Pray to God and tell God to bless everyone, especially Vincent?
5xmom felt a sense of relief.
All said, Ching Ming is a wonderful time for family get-togethers. Use it to rekindle the ties within your family. Honour thy ancestors and remember them for all the good things they had done for you. And the best way to honour them is to be loving towards one another amongst the clans(cousins/nieces/nephews/cucu/cicit etc).
As a parting note, let me share something from the Bible.
Jesus comforts His Disciples before His death,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
*Addition – If you want to read more about Ching Ming, Dr. Liew has written a very long blog last year. But read it only at night when you are alone. Don’t say I did not warn you, ok?