It was an aunt’s funeral today. She was my mom’s 88-year-old second cousin, though the relationship between our families has always been close. She lived 2 houses away from us, at the corner of our block. My friend Minmin jokingly refers to that area as the “Bermuda Triangle” ever since I told her how the three houses on that intersection (the fourth structure is a chapel, so it doesn’t count) contains at least 2 spinsters.

Well, all four siblings in my aunt’s house were unmarried.  One was a long-time widow with no kids so she has always been informally counted as an “unmarried”. They were all considered as the “elders” of our neighborhood, the ones who were treated with utmost deference; those who don’t really know them were always intimidated.  Even I would sometimes be scared of them. They were the ones we always saw in the chapel during Simbang Gabi, the novena during the fiesta, and the regular Anticipated Masses, always seated in the same pew.  Whenever my cousins and I walked into the chapel or any gathering we would immediately looking for them for that “courtesy call”.  It was considered a slight if you failed to do so promptly.  Whenever they were around, I felt like I always had to be on my best behavior.  They had a way of making me feel like I’m still a small child even when I’m all grown up.

And now, with the passing of my aunt, they’re all gone.  It’s going to feel odd to walk into our chapel again (especially in the coming Simbang Gabi) and not see my aunt, the last one among her siblings to be a formidable fixture in our neighborhood.   There are still other “elders” around, but it would never be the same.