In the afternoon of August the 2nd, after visiting a dentist to get a referral to a couple of orthodontists, I cycled back home and quickly changed into black slacks and a white long-sleeve shirt. My aunt drove a long way downtown to Toronto's Jerrett Funeral Homes. Oh, what a surprise, they also post services on their website too. I just found out on my grandfather's obituary page that he is exactly 60 years and 8 days older than I am, I mean, I always knew his birthday but I've never known his birth year.
This whole process was very much a learning experience for me as for the first time, I was told that I couldn't wear colors such as red, brown, orange, yellow, and any bright and colorful clothes. Also, we had to be vegetarian for two days and we couldn't shower. I didn't understand why and my grandmother's explanation "It's good for Ye-Ye not good for you" didn't help. I've been to Buddhist/Taoist funerals many times in Malaysia and they were held in huge rooms of Chinese funeral homes where a dozen or so monks would chant and family members were distinctively fully dressed in their respective color of relation and gender. So coming into a rather fancy conference building that looked like a hotel on the inside was new to me.
Our room was the first room on the right upon entering.
A nicely set up welcome area with a guest book for visitors to sign their names and white packets each containing C$1 and a candy. A plain white envelope was for donations by guests which they would drop in the donations box on the left of the table (out of picture).
I knew that we write in guests books for weddings and stuff but I didn't know it applied for funerals too. I have so much to learn about social etiquette.
Now I was confused as to why were giving out money and sweets to guests when we were supposed to be bitter and mournful. I guessed that they were meant to comfort the people and reward them for coming.
Everything was explained thanks to the note standing on the table. It sounded rather superstitious to me but the world is full of fear and cautionary steps and conditions to alleviate the worry of bad luck clinging on or an entity's haunting. "Lucky number 8! A lucky rabbit's foot! A lucky four-leaf clover! A lucky jade ring! Lucky this! Lucky that!" I don't really believe in holy water either but all things can be blessed or cursed, holy or demonic.
They also offered the deities some oranges and a vegetarian dish.
We did NOTHING for an hour, we just sat around except for my grandmother who weeped every once in a while. I wasn't very affected at that time, I was expecting his death. Pancreatic cancer. Last stage. Doctor's prognosis: Two weeks, no more than six months. With that estimate I prepared myself and strong ol' Ye-Ye lasted for two months after the diagnosis. It was not easy taking care of him of course, he needed the constant care and attention from Ma-Ma.
After an hour or so of sitting in the room, we were told there was a pantry downstairs. Since there was no one and still another hour before visiting time, we left to stretch our legs and take a peek in the canteen.
Plus, they had complimented us with coffee condiments in such a neat manner. The bum part was that I couldn't put any milk into my drink (dairy was included in vegetarian diet ban). So I tried Splenda for the first time which proved its potent sweetness and enhancement of flavors... of all kinds, even the month-old staleness of the coffee powder.
When the visiting hours was over, we went to Richmond Hill Food Court, I believe it was called. A typical Chinese hawker-like restaurant. It was my first time going there and I was shocked by the price until I saw the portions. They were HUGE.
I guess it's more of a restaurant for families and large groups of people to share the food with like a Chinese seafood restaurant. Why, of course, they also served seafood. For the size they give us, the $8-12 price for the regular dishes seem reasonable. Seafood (which none of us ordered since we were vegetarian) was around $16-22.
The dinner marked the end of the first day of my dad's mourning at the funeral home. We were all exhausted and slept as soon as we could for the next day of cremation in the morning.