Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Memorial

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.

19 comments:

  1. I am sorry for your familys loss, but what a lovely memorial! Thank you for sharing it with us, Robin!

    Sylvia

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  2. Sorry for the parting, but what a sweet, thoughtful send off.

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  3. What a beautiful way to say goodbye to Claudine at her beloved home by the ocean. Sweet to see the photo of her on her wedding day and to see three generations meeting to honor her and express gratitude.

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  4. Roger the Elder. I hope he receives the respect to which he is entitled!

    Moving tribute. I love the idea of the kava cup. Wonderful send off and lovely family.

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  5. Such an nice tribute to her, and one that she would have enjoyed.
    thanks for the post.

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  6. That sounds like a very meaningful and loving memorial. My idea of the right way to honor a life and really all of life

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  7. i did get exactly the respect i deserve. just enuff.

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  8. robin and roger -- what a beautiful memorial, and wonderful gathering of the clan! i love the photos.

    it is hard to get everyone in one place at the same time, but there is something really great about extended family being together.

    it is amazing that the family has this gorgeous place which is special to all of you. isn't this where you and roger were married?

    so funny about roger being the "elder" of the family. my aunt jane is the sole survivor of my parents' generation (including sibs and spouses), and we adore her. she does rather enjoy being a benevolent and non-meddling figurehead. but when one takes her first cousins into account, cousin lynn takes the prize, as everybody acknowledged at last year's family picnic. i have been the "elder" of my own birth family for a while, and can reliably report that nobody considers me a matriarch. ;)

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  9. Thank you for sharing this. Lovely.

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  10. i thought about you guys. it sounds like the time together was very meaningful and also filled with good cheer. i love one of the pics we have from the week we were in GA during my mother's service. it captured a moment of healing humor as my sister and i recalled a very funny memory from our childhood, and everyone sitting at the table is bent forward in deep laughter.

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  11. Beautiful! I love how the rituals were a celebration, and very much about Claudine--her life and who she was.

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  12. Such rituals are so important, to remember Claudine, to express love, to honor the past and future----well done. peace, MandtB6

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  13. i keep looking. this time, it is the photo displays behind roger's brother drinking the kava. how wonderful! claudine as a bride; and then i think the second one is of her in later life at this very place. the third is a photo collage (have my suspicions about robin's hand in this), which must have been a glorious survey of times in claudine's life. sweet.

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  14. I am so sorry for your loss but it is so nice that so many came, shared and honored her.
    The kava cup was an interesting tradition that I hadn't heard of before. Very nice.
    It is a bit daunting when we children suddenly find ourselves at the top of the current family tree. It is a promotion we never seek.

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  15. Love the simplicity and authenticity of the two rituals you describe. We so much need these in our lives. The special part for me was the gesture to honor those who came before and those still to arrive on this planet. A great blessing. Love and sympathies to both...

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  16. Much love, you two. I will be doing something similar in a few weeks, back on the mainland.

    We have our own kava rituals here, regularly. There is even a kava tincture!
    Aloha
    xox

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  17. Neat way to blend traditions, and what a beautiful memorial site!

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