Funeral in Càlig

This morning I heard the church bells tolling announcing a death.  When I went to the Bar Arayo with two New Mexican friends, my friends from here (Càlig) told me the mother of Mari Carmen, a woman who cleaned for me had died.  I recalled how her  mother used to sit on the street taking notice of all that happened and barking orders to anyone who would listen.  Mari Carmenraised five children in a small house on a narrow street.  When they were young, they were always playing in the street and looking into open doors to see what was going on.  One daughter, Jessica,  excelled in school and went to the University in Barcelona.   The funeral was at 11 –in about an hour.  “You don;t have to go, Martha,” my friend Maria said.  “Just say you didn’t know.”

On the way back to my house, we saw the beginning of the procession.  The close relations dressed in black followed the casket up the street toward the church.  We left our purchases and went the back way up to the church.  The men sat on the right, the women on the left.  The priest mentioned the name of the deceased a few times, but spoke more about the cemetery being open all the time, unlike neighboring villages.  He also mentioned someone who wanted his ashes left in front of the supermarket so his daughters would remember him several times a week.  I was the only one who chuckled.  There was mass and communion.  Two women took up a small collection.  The choir sang beautifully.  My friends who are Catholic and Spanish-speaking joined in with the rest of the people.  Afterwards the men stood on one side of the door and the women on the other.  Mari Carmen and her daughter Jessica thanked me for coming.  We left but those who were close to the family followed the hearse to the cemetery and then to the space where the casket was entered.  A solemn moment.

Later my friend Ana explained that there was no wake as there used to be.  They took the body into the funeral home in a nearby city and placed it in a casket in a cold room.  The next morning they returned the casket to the home where the deceased had lived and then the procession began.

In Càlig, a funeral is a time when people of all walks of life and political beliefs come together to show respect for one of their own.

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