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The Mama's Motley Crew of Pallbearers

Photo courtesy of Rosalie Phillips

Except for a few instructions from the Mama, I had carte blanche to plan her funeral services. Would I follow the traditional way, which I regard as much too somber, tight-lipped, not a crack of a smile, and full of smelly moth balls? Or, would I follow my heart and let loose with the joy that is life, living, and, most of all, the deep essence of the Mama who denied it so often while she lived?

Was there any doubt that I would do the latter?

At times. Especially after freaking out when I read the what should be's when it comes to funerals, in particular, Ilocano funerals. One superstition, or tradition, is that no family members shall be pallbearers. Bad luck would be theirs otherwise. Before I read that, I had decided to be one of the Mama's pallbearers. I wanted to go the whole nine yards with the Mama. But, maybe I ought to pay attention to the superstition. Then I recalled I was a pallbearer for Uncle Frank several decades back. Did bad things happen afterwards? Sure. Good and wonderful things happened, too. It's called living.

So, I was one of the Mama's six pallbearers. I asked the Husband if he'd like to be a pallbearer, but he declined for reasons neither of us can remember. While we were milling around the mortuary on the day of the funeral, waiting to head to church, the Husband asked," Do you have enough pallbearers?" I told him to check with the funeral guy in charge of our party, who made the Husband an honorary pallbearer, meaning he could walk with us and help with the casket when needed.

Being a pallbearer is very different today. I think the most carrying and lifting that we did was down the steps of the mortuary and then several feet to the hearse. It was possible that the coffin was placed on a gurney-type thing after the steps, and then we wheeled it to the car. I don't remember. We did wheel it from the hearse to the church and back again. I think we, pallbearers, may have taken it by hand from the hearse to the grave site, which was only a few feet.

I'm glad I was one of the Mama's pallbearers. Mostly because I was physically doing something rather than sitting and observing the casket going from one point to the next. I would've found it difficult to merely sit and not to suddenly leave my perch. As a pallbearer, I had a task to complete. I was not going anywhere to cry.

The Mama's spirit was happily surprised, I like to think, that her pallbearers were four guys and three gals. Spring chickens, we were. The Mama loved and respected each and every one of her motley crew of pallbearers—Ernie, Kathy, Jennifer, Dave, Thomas, the Husband, and me.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Treziak

It's the letter P at ABC Wednesday, a fun weekly meme begun by Mrs. Nesbitt and administered today by Roger Green and his ABCW team. Click here to check out the P fun.


  1. I have never seen women be pallbearers but I think it should be when the person who passed is close. I am certain you felt better doing something than just sitting there and I know she is happy in her heavenly garden

    1. Birgit,sitting in the car with the Husband and my friends as we went from there to there was the best thing for me that day. I needed them to hold me up as I cried.

  2. It is so important to have an impressive funeral ceremony. I wish you strength to deal with your loss.
    When my husband died, my children, his brother and me were all the pallbearers. Six months later my mum died and we did the same. Actually we didn't bear the coffin, but we wheeled it. That was easier for the grandchildren to walk with us.

    1. Thanks, Wil. I'm very grateful that we mostly wheeled the Mama's coffin. It would've been a very rocky, but humorous because it was us after all, and long walk from the hearse to the church.

  3. aaah how sad.... wishing you all that what you need to cope with this loss.
    An impressive entry, the most impressive this week if i may say so.

    Have a nice ABC-Wednesday-Day / - Week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc-w-team)

    1. Thank you, Melody. You'd be happy to know that we were singing in the car on the way to the cemetery. It helped calm me.

  4. YOU are simply The Best.
    I hold you tight in my heart - and do you know why?
    Because YOU are a treasure to me . .
    love & love,

  5. 'PEACE'and eternal rest.
    Is granted to the Mama.

    You dear Susie, the husband, your friends and family, did her PROUD
    when time came to PART.

    'Parting is such sweet sorrow
    that I shall say goodnight'
    'til it be tomorrow...

    Best wishes and Big hugs,
    ABCW team.

    1. Thank you, Di. I love your big hugs and best wishes.

  6. I'm impressed by your gutsy variations on tradition. My thoughts to you.

  7. I'm sure there are no laws when it comes to following tradition. She was your Mama, and I think being one of her pallbearers was the last act of love you could have done for her - you did her proud, and she'll be looking down on you from her heavenly garden and smiling.

    Best wishes, and more hugs from over the ocean x

    1. Thank your for your words, Eunice. You said how I felt and feel. Just didn't know it until I read what you wrote. :-)

  8. An act of love - that's what planning a good funeral is. It sounds like you did well by your Mama. Sending you hugs from up here.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and wonderful hugs!


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Thanks for the good cheer. :-)

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