Living Legacy Haibun

Irony of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” playing before the memorial began didn’t bypass us.

Commemoration: my relative, hair cut short, no more a pretty girl, lead off: “Ba often had trouble expressing himself. (One way of depicting a troubled man who dominated with fists and barbed tongue). Nonetheless, Ba said he was proud when his children married and got degrees, recounted his elderly brother-in-law. Hubby chose to remember the old man shooting pheasant on the prairies and taking the brothers fishing on the riverfront.

Mourners lined up to bow to Ba’s casket-bound waxen body. Hubby’s and my turn came, as did cousins; we walked near, but not too near. Hubby and me said, “Good-bye, Dad.” Cousins with their rock-star-hair, said, “We didn’t know you.”

One of Ma’s nephew’s wives doled out lucky money to exiting mourners. Milling about, chatter circled around who would ride in the rented limos.

As the procession left the funeral home, the downtown skyline loomed resolute and tall. The rain stopped as if all the tears had been cried dry. Clouds in the sky were woven through with threads of pink. The hearse and limos drove along Main Street and stopped at the in-law’s grocery store. An employee, clad in red Buddhist monk robes, partially hidden by a down vest, stood before the white grated doors of the store. Behind those grates, burned a fire in a huge metal drum as if to cleanse sins for the next life. A funeral home employee emerged from one of the two hearses and bowed before the barred doorway. Dan Fogelberg’s “Living Legacy of the Leader of the Band” played in our limo as we followed the hearse

Arriving at the cemetery, raindrops pounded on our heads. They kept hammering. In family clusters, we cast handfuls of soil on Ba’s casket. A long while dribbled by before a tractor sealed Ba’s body forever and ever more with a large metal plate clunked over the casket.

Ba’s life meaning? We figured, he produced hubby, and the five other siblings. Hot tea in styrofoam cups was passed round. We hung about ascertaining Ma’s plans were a wake, a full sit-down dinner at 3 pm, right after the burial. “That’s just like Ma,” said hubby.

Living Legacy of the Leader of the Band, raindrops kept drumming.


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Elaine Woo


Elaine Woo works at living in the present. Through her writing, artwork, and libretto, she observes the tides of life.…

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