today was baa-chan's funeral. it wasn't anything fancy or elaborate; close relatives and friends came and we bid farewell to her. it was a buddhist funeral (a shortened one) so a few buddhist traditions were followed.
baa-chan received her posthumous buddhist name, shakuni kashin, from the monk. shakuni means "one who follows the buddhist way" and kashin basically means "the truth of the flower." baa-chan had been a kadou (japanese flower arranging) teacher so the monk chose that name for her.
then, as prayers were said for her, everyone paid their last respects one-by-one by coming to the alter, offering incense and praying to the body (we had an open-casket funeral). the family -- beginning with my oldest uncle and his wife, my other uncle and my dad and mom, and then the grandkids -- goes first, and then the other relatives and friends.
the monk recited a zen poem about a flower in honor of my grandma. and then he talked about the significance of a wordless sermon the buddha had given. in this sermon, the buddha showed his followers a single flower and said nothing. many of his followers were confused but one monk understood that the buddha was trying to show them the magnificence of a flower's life. it spends its energy living and blooming into a beautiful flower, and then its petals wilt and drop. it not only signifies the beauty of life, but the impermanence of it as well.
my cousin eric said a few words for the family. he talked about how kind and gentle baa-chan was. how beautiful her skin always was (in all seriousness, she had amazing skin until the day she died at the age of 87; it was smooth and soft, without wrinkles or blemishes. when i touched her hand in the casket, it was cold but still so soft and smooth). how delicious her chawan-mushi (a savory japanese egg custard dish) was. the kind of things we want to remember about baa-chan.
and that was it.
after the service some of us stayed and put flowers from the various arrangements into her casket so she could go on surrounded by the beautiful flowers she loved.
good-bye, baa-chan, thank you for treating me like a real granddaughter and being kind to me and my children. i'll miss you, but i hope that you and jii-chan will protect us just like you did in life.