We had the loan of a neighbour’s car so I was able to drive home in the evening with the kids and leave my husband there. The neighbour across the hall opened her home for all the cooking and general refreshments to be served with the help of another neighbour, my husband’s cousins’ wives, his nephews’ wives and, of course, my two daughters. I went home the first night and baked cakes to serve with coffee. The funeral usually goes on for three days with a meal provided for everyone on the third day. I think his mother would have been pleased at the turnout and at the fact that everyone was fed - she had left money specifically for this purpose and I can’t help wondering if this was as a result of my husband and his brother teasing her in the past and saying they weren’t going to feed anyone at her funeral. She was aghast and asked what about those who came long distances…to which they asked how did she know they would come to her funeral, and she replied that of course people would come! To her way of thinking she had never harmed anyone so of course they would all come. Then she asked them what they would do with the money instead….to which they answered they would buy a car! It’s a wonder she didn’t drop dead there and then with the shock……but they were only joking with her. Still I can’t help wonder if she decided if something was worth doing….do it yourself! The family received so many gifts of food – packets of coffee and sugar being a favourite but also chickens (of the dead variety!), croissants and other assorted cakes etc. etc. that my sister-in-law could have opened a shop after the funeral.
My youngest stayed the second night and the girls stayed the night after. Like funerals in Ireland, and, probably the world over, it reunited people who hadn’t seen each other in a long time as well as brought the family closer together – a night or two after the funeral all the siblings stayed together for the night, which was a first in a very, very long time and which they all enjoyed …especially without any spouses!
Stories of the burial that emerged afterwards made me realise why my husband fits into our family so well – his family is just as barmy as ours! Another little old lady in the neighbourhood had died the previous night and she also was buried on the same day, at the same time in the same graveyard. One of my sons didn’t realise he was at the wrong funeral until the crowd of people he was with noticed it. and then he went off to find the right one! One of his cousins did one better – he was actually inside the grave helping to bury the old lady when he looked up and realised he didn’t recognise anyone…..so he got out and went in search of the right one! I asked my eldest daughter how could anyone let a complete stranger into the grave of their loved one….and she said ‘he’s an akhina (meaning ‘brother’ alluding to a practising man usually wearing the Islamic dress of camis and sporting a beard) – people assume THEY always know what they are doing’!!!!!! My husband got caught up in traffic so my eldest son and one of his cousins were the only family at the graveyard with his grandmother, so my husband rang him and told him to go ahead and bury her, and not to delay on his account.....which nearly gave my son a heart attack especially as the cousin he was with didn’t know his a@&e from his elbow! But the rest of the family soon caught up and the burial went ahead. She was buried in the graveyard on the hill opposite her home….on the other side of the hill, and seemingly it’s quite steep where her grave is. The women went the next morning to visit the grave and one of my sisters-in-law came home absolutely disgusted with the site saying that her mother had specified she wanted to be buried in another part of the graveyard, and instead her son and grandsons had just ‘flung’ her into the side of a cliff! She said she didn’t care if in Islam it says that only men can perform the actual burial, she didn’t want any of her male relations to bury her – her daughters were the only ones she trusted to do it for her. One of the neignbours tried to mollify her by saying, ‘at least she has a nice view of the sea’…..a comment she will never live down I think!