Some stories are beautiful… Maybe so beautiful, that you can’t even think of crying when you hear it…
Story – The year of the cat
An old man has lost his wife 10 years ago, this year is the year of the cat according to the Chinese Zodiac. The old man expected his wife to fetch him this year, because she was born in the year of the cat. As he expected… She did fetch him this year. At least, that is what most of us think.
Note: The cat is not a zodiac and does not belong to the animal ring officially. But! There is a story that tells that the rat tricked the cat so that he can’t be present at the God’s banquet, which made the cat loose its position in the Chinese Zodiac. The cat has been used for jokes and some tragic stories. An anime, that might clarify this story is Fruits Basket, which focuses on the Zodiacs and also the Cat’s life.
The old man’s wife and he himself seems to have made jokes about the year of the cat… Yesterday was the funeral of an acquaintance, an old man. He died recently and lost his wife 10 years ago. He was more a grandpa to me then just an acquaintance or old man. (This might be because my dad sees him as his dad even though they are not blood related). I might not have seen him every week or knew him completely, but I know he is a kind and gentle man.
I remember that my younger brother and I were invited to go to see the Chinese Circus with him. I still smile from the vague memory… I was about 10 years old… So I cannot remember all the details, but we definitely had fun! After that, I only saw him so often when I went to school. I’d greet him… Even though, that was not much…
The ceremony was beautiful and amongst a closed family community. We started with saying our goodbyes to him, while the coffin was still open. His face looked lifeless, but it looked like he was sleeping. It was surreal, he was just skin and bones… The flowers by his side were gorgeous and it smelled like a scent that anyone would wish for when they receive a long goodbye.
Half an hour later, the coffin was closed and the funeral procession started. The limo with the coffin drove before us, while we walked behind it towards the next building for the third and final part of the ceremony. We entered the room and I saw the closed coffin with the flowers on top of it placed vertically in the room. A table was placed in front of the coffin’s feet with a picture of him, a glass of uncooked rice, and a saucer on top of it. The saucer was filled with a hill of cooked rice (created by a rice bowl) with a boiled egg on top of that, which was held in place by two cute curly toothpicks. The picture of him made the surreal experience from before more real… The picture showed a smiling, gentle, lively old man.
While entering, we stood in line to say a prayer to him. When it was my turn, I held the incense and stood before his coffin and stared into his eyes on the picture and wished that he had a safe journey to the other side and will have loads of happiness. We placed the incense in the glass filled with uncooked rice. Vietnamese songs were played and family members told their story, after that it was saying our final goodbye’s. This time, I held the incense and stood before his coffin and told him my final goodbye…
Rest in peace, grandpa.