“He was honored and not forgotten,” my father said of my grandfather’s funeral. My grandfather was a soldier for 20 years. He fought in WWII and Korea. He suffered for it. But, his comrades remembered him and in doing so they helped bring some peace to his family. Shiny pins and folded flags don’t pay for the dead, but ceremony does help those who are left behind.
It’s easy to forget. To close the door when the job is “done.” But, being able to talk to my father the week of his father’s funeral and hear the pride in his voice for how my grandfather was sent off—I’m glad that someone, many, took the time to remember. My grandfather lost a lot of himself in those 20 years. But, I will not criticize his motivation. His sacrifice was founded in a dedication to country and all people, a desire to do good. Further, I will not criticize the loyalty of his fellow veterans.
The thought of remembering struck me, as I sat alone in my little house thinking about my family so far away. I thought about why I left them. All the crazy phrases my grandfather used are on the tip of my tongue these days. They come to me as I’m going about my business. Sometimes, I try to expression them into Spanish, but they don’t have the same ring. “I’m taking hat, brother,” for example. Sombrero means “hat” in Spanish, in Paraguay it also can mean “lover on the side.”
In Paraguay, people pray for nine days when someone dies. Each day friends and family are invited to pray and eat snacks. On the last day, there are many snacks and there is extra praying. People remember their dead on specific anniversaries thereafter by holding similar praying sessions.