In the haze of grief, where surreality overlaps reality, losing mom, Gloria Y.Nichols, to a short bout of pneumonia, and figuring out where to come up with an up front fee of 8 grand for one night of wake, daughter in law Dawn came up with a few names for crematory services.
So we sat down with Liz, a smartly dressed, soft spoken woman who runs a cremation service. As she explained what the $650 fee entailed, (as in pick up the body, bring to crematorium, return the ashes with 2 death certificates), my sister Patricia and I asked a few more questions and then decided to look no further.
With her patience and ability to be emphatetic, Liz gave us a bright spot in an otherwise really depressing duty. At the back of our minds, mom had a first class, top of the line funeral plan with all the trimmings from a premier funeral home in the Philippines. And here, we end up with a bare bones package, pardon the pun.
But here are snippets of why we were comfortable with Liz.
Can we dress her up in her favorite color (lavender/purple) dress? Sure, and she agreed to pick the dress up from us. No make up, no embalming. After all, it's cremation, right?
A day later, oh, by the way, my cousin cannot make it to the cremation service, can we come over so he can see mom? And Liz patiently waited for us (3 hours late) as we comfortably lost our way and drove further west than east. Typical of GYN, in her heyday. We used to go to wakes and funerals, as far away as Ilocos Sur at night where a giant bat like figure followed us during our midnight drive to a place I am sure only had a few homes with electricity, and others around towns where we had no names of either deceased, family or place but still found it. So here's to mom again, even in death are we following the principles of her adventures in attending wakes and funerals. It actually made us laugh.
And, Liz did a great job with mom's remains. She looked even better than when we last saw her at the hospital. Like she was sleeping, no artifice, and beautiful in her lavender outfit, made for her by a society dressmaker Inang Paras, one of the women she played mah-jong with and who'd gone ahead of her. See mom? You outlived them all.
Oh by the way, can we have her cremated next week instead? After Labor Day? So our kids can come and say their good byes and we can get a priest to do the final blessings? Again, she said sure. Are we staying the entire time? It may cost a bit. Nope, just us traipsing to a place 2 hours away from our regular route and seeing GYN one last time.
It was almost a party being in a huge warehouse where two ovens (one fired up for GYN) and they brought mom out, a bit sunken in the eyes but otherwise, still as beautiful that not one of the kids, or Mercy or her kids blanched. I think the visiting Pinoy priest was a bit weirded out. We listened to the prayers, talked around mom as if she were only sleeping, I put sugar flowers on her hands instead of getting fresh, after all, she started the hand made sugar flower industry years ago where it is now a common place home industry. Again, a pioneer.
So Liz patiently waited for us. Being there was the formal acknowledgement of the body and the go signal for cremation.
Oh, and can you wait till Saturday? Patty wasn't ready to bring mom home. As usual. And so GYN , like in life, also in death, went around town and travelled to places here and there on the back of Liz' van, so typical of her itchy wandering feet, which is what we all have, thanks to her. Poor Liz, even if she were the msot professional of professionals, I am sure we really took the cake in some of the things she did for us, as we thanked her profusely for taking mom for a ride.
This piece, as garbled as it is, is to thank Liz and acknowledge her patience and service for GYNichols and her dysfunctional family. Thanks Liz for being the way you are. (How did you get into this business? My mom was a funeral director. Bingo!)
On a quieter note, thank goodness for dedicated people Like Liz and her Cremations by Grace Company. A life saver for those who cannot afford the wakes and funeral services. And a bonus to have someone like her, patient, understanding, and thorough.
Patient above all. Thanks again Liz for taking care of mom.
- wife, mother of 5, lola(grandma)of 5,joined facebook and still wonder why friend, cook, baker, decorator,daughter,sister, Mrs.A'sCupcakes&Cookies Virgo Year of the Snake St. John's Academy 1970 University of the Philippines BSHRA I'm afraid to admit this, but oh well, Jack of all Trades, master of some. Football fan. Totally. Mrs. A's Cupcakes & Cookies, my latest venture.