Thursday, January 17, 2008

Alcatraces y Cenizas

Yesterday, we experienced our first Mexican funeral. It was different than I anticipated. It took place in the small, somewhat isolated village of Sta. Cruz.

The deceased, the mother of a friend of ours, had died suddenly ten days before. It seemed odd that interment would be so long after death, but from our bereaved friend's laconic comments, we thought that perhaps the body was cremated.
This was the case, as we saw yesterday upon reaching the humble home of
la difunta y su viudo.

The mourners inside were gathered around a black box a little wider than a shoebox. In it were the mother's earthly ashes. The box was on a chair, flanked by tall candles and lovely, long stemmed
alcatraces lilies. A rosary was recited by the gathered friends and families.

We stood the entire time outside in the yard, then, when the prayers were over, went in to comfort our friend and her sisters and brother.

We then adjourned to the nearby church, where the Padre had already begun
La Misa. The church was incongrously still festooned with Christmas decorations, including pink and white balloons on the walls. The Virgen de Guadalupe looked upon the congregants with a benevolent smile.

We'd been to several masses since moving here, but I'm not familiar enough with Catholic liturgy (especially in Spanish) to distinguish the variant types. To me it seemed that only at the end of the service was attntion specifically directed to the deceased and her family. Afterwards came the usual announcements by the Padre about fiesta dates.

We returned to the house, where we took seats and were served
corundas de pollo con salsa y crema, y arroz.

When all had eaten, the debris was gathered and the folding chairs stacked inside. Most of the visitors left, except for the immediate family and a few friends.

We then carried several passengers to the
panteón near Las Cuevas and Nuevo Rodeo.

The interment was brief. The
viudo, an adult son, a young granddaughter and others scratched out a shallow hole in a grave mound. The black box was placed in the hole, and earth brushed over it. They said few more prayers, the Padre Nuestro, then a hymn was sung. The flowers were distributed over the grave mound.

The family then departed for Quiroga, some 20 minutes away, hoping to arrive in time for the next
misa. We, instead, carried two amigas back to Las Cuevas in our van.


Michael Dickson said...

When cremation is not the choice, Mexican funerals take place very rapidly because embalming is rare. They usually get planted the next day.

Steve Cotton said...

Good to see a new post. Perhaps I will run into you on my scouting trip to Patzcuaro.