I’ve been going to a Buddhist temple for the past 5 Sundays.
I’m not Buddhist . . . and because my Vietnamese is shamefully horrible, I couldn’t even tell you what the monks are chanting 1/2 the time. But recently, I started going for my family as part of the 49-day grieving process for my grandfather, who died the day before Christmas Eve. I didn’t tell too many people because 1) I didn’t want to dampen anyone’s holidays with the news and 2) we weren’t close. He came to the US about five years ago. I think because we never got the proper introduction (“Hey Diana, this is your grandpa. Say hi.” Um, hi.) coupled with the fact that I didn’t speak Vietnamese (still don’t) and he didn’t speak English, we never developed a relationship that he had with all of my younger cousins (they all happen to speak the language). When he passed, I didn’t feel the whole range of emotions that the rest of the family did.
It was different at the funeral.
I’m 30 years old. My grandfather’s funeral is the 1st one I had been to. Ever. Luck is probably on my side but no one had given me a reason to go to a funeral up until this point. I should have knocked on wood.
When his casket was being lifted into the hearse, a range of emotions flew threw me. I reacted by crying. I cried for the relationship we didn’t have, for the stories we never shared and for the experiences that were missed. So many regrets. I have never understood the people who say they don’t have regrets. Not knowing my grandfather is a HUGE regret. Yes, maybe it will shape me as a person (which I suppose is why people claim they don’t have regrets) but I think had I made a better effort in knowing him and understanding his life’s circumstance I’d get an insight that I probably will never get from anyone else.
How can I not regret that?
As a result, I decided to be more proactive about learning more about my culture that I’ve been shelving for the past decade or two. And for me, it begins with cooking. And a lot of the food ideas have been coming from the temple.
After the weekly funeral sessions (each about 30 minutes long), there’s usually food. It’s all vegetarian because monks don’t eat meat. While vegetarian is typically cool with The Boy and me, the help in the kitchen sometimes screws up.
This week the food was awesome.
The crab rangoons (pictured on the bottom right) were not so good, but they were not crab rangoons afterall. They were stuffed with unidentified crap. (It was the only thing on the table that sucked).
The Vietnamese culture stinks with dessert offerings (and attempts), but I do love che. Mmmmm . . .
Not pictured are the eggrolls (once again, mmmm . . .).
We brought home spring rolls. They rocked.
The best was the water chestnuts tossed in a vinegar dressing (also not pictured).
The Boy liked everything as well. Well, everything except for my uncles continually filling his plate well after he became full. I could hear them instructing him to, “Just keep eating. It’s okay.” He did. As did I. Way more than we should have.
But it’s okay. No regrets.