It’s taken me a while to sit in front of the computer with the time and inclination to write this last post about Tatay. If you haven’t read part one and two, then I suggest you start with those to make sense of what I am writing about.
Tattoo’s viewing and funeral were this past week. I was unable to attend the funeral but I did get a chance to attend the viewing. Once again, I am super aware that customs are different across families and cultures. This was evident at the viewing which was more like a celebration and music recital than a viewing. Yes, Tatay was on view, but the family was more interested in sharing what he was like and their love for him to the people who came out of love and respect.
I will admit, I have had a fantasy of telling the story I told in the last post at his funeral. So when we were asked (while they were trying to figure out a technical difficulty, something about showing the myriad of pictures they had of him) whether anyone had any memories of Tatay, one of Fe’s sisters poked me from behind and said…”Tell your story”…
So I did.
And it was wonderful, lots of laughter, lots of warm feelings. And in true Nieves fashion, another of Fe’s sisters told me Tatay needed a ride home after the viewing.
There are lots of little memories I could have shared…standing in the garden pulling weeds and looking up to see Tatay through the window of their house while he was painting something beautiful. Tatay sweeping the driveway every day. Tatay saying “Eat”…before I had even taken my coat off. Imagining Tatay in his red scooter that his son-in-law got him so that he could drive the mile through neighborhoods to see his wife. Tatay laughing and smiling…always. Tatay sticking around at every party until the end…often lasting longer than I did. Tatay sitting in the living room listening to his grandchildren play the piano, the flute, dance, sing…whatever they were doing at the moment…and clapping.
Tatay saying, when I asked him how he was, saying “Well…I am still here”.
But I think that the image that I remember the most, is the yearly event, the birthday party. The numbers kept climbing. The grandchildren got older. The balloons for 105 had to be pulled together from a one, zero and a five. But the smile and the twinkly eyes stayed the same. He was surrounded by the people who meant the most to him, his grandchildren. They kept him young, he said. And I believe him.
Oh, yeah…this was the year that the person who took the cake order didn’t quite understand that the name was Tatay, not Tangle. Instead of anger, exasperation and annoyance, this was met with gales of laughter by the whole clan…yet another Tatay story to add to the list.