We said our farewells to Roger's mom over Memorial Day Weekend. It was quite a gathering. All of Claudine's extended family was there. That's her four children (and three partners), all nine grandchildren (and seven partners), and six great-grand-children. We spent two full days together with everyone, and then two days with people coming and going. I'm not sure the full family had ever gathered like this before, and it is unlikely it will ever happen quite this way again.
What can I say about memorials or good-byes? I went planning to say things that I had thought about and rehearsed in my head, and the words were compelling and real. But when it was my turn to speak, I said the usual quiet things and handed the kava cup to the person sitting next to me.
Kava cup? Ah yes, the kava cup. This was a very unusual and wonderful way to remember someone. Roger's brother Gary (the youngest brother) mixed a batch of kava in a big bowl. There were two small cups that would be filled and refilled and passed from person to person. The ritual was to dip our fingers into the cup and sprinkle some behind our backs to honor those who had come before us, our ancestors. Then, dip our fingers and sprinkle some in front of us to honor those who will follow us, our descendants. Then we could say something out loud to either honor Claudine, or express our gratitude, or something else. We could then drink the kava, the cup would be refilled and passed on to the next person. When that was done, we had all said our good-byes.
The celebration was held at the beach house, the one that Claudine's parents bought in 1938, when she was only 18 years old. She absolutely loved that house. Roger and his siblings have known that house all of their lives. So they agreed that some of their mom's ashes had to be scattered in the garden there, and they each took turns doing just that. The rest they scattered in the ocean the next day, very early in the morning, just the four of them in the minus tide.
And that was her send off. It was lovely and quiet. It was loving and thoughtful. It was the perfect farewell to Claudine.
And then everyone remembered and commented that Roger is now the elder of the family. Oh the laughter was rich about that.