Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday Diary

From Wendy

We had made no real plans for Good Friday, except for the commitment to play the organ for an 8.30 service in Geelong, Peceli not going up to Melbourne to the Fijian church at the same time. We would drive to the beach, do some sketches of tee-trees and rocks. Anyway, a phone call alerts us that one of our friends has to fly to Fiji Friday night because her mother suddenly died. We must go to her house with the church group on Friday afternoon.

So yesterday morning - Good Friday - Peceli makes coffee at 6.30 for us. The music at the 8.30 a.m. service is restrained and the people quiet. There are no flowers in the church. No chatter. The moving dramatic narrative is told once again.

I discover that the top keyboard which had been on a kind of ‘almost mute’ for three weeks was because I had accidentally hit a tab that took off all the sounds bar one. Something like someone had pressed ‘mute’ on my new computer and music wouldn’t play! A guy at church told me where to check and fix that one. I had been in a panic about my new computer having a fault!

I buy the ‘Age’ with the weekend supplements. The Lebanese man’s fish-and-chips shop is open. Doesn’t he ever take a break? Respect the holy day? I make a morning tea of pancakes and coffee and read the paper.

After rice and curried tinned tuna lunch we watch a forum on TV on ‘Happiness’ with various experts. It is genetic says one. Well, my father was always cheerful and singing, until one day, his best friend died at 45, and my Dad suddenly went into shock, because a thought hit him, what if it had been him with Mum and five kids left without support? I guess we all get shocks at time about the frailty of this life. Dad recovered after four weeks and was back to his cheerful self.

We drive to Werribee to meet with another Fijian family to go together. The plan is for four families to meet at 4 p.m. at the house of the bereaved woman. Money is collected as is the custom. It’s raining very heavily and the freeway is busy with Easter holiday-makers. Cars have their lights on and I become anxious because I can hardly see.

The house in Footscray is full of visitors including another family from Geelong. I cry with my friend then we are all silent, sitting on the pandanus mats. Formal speeches are given, a prayer, and a gift of money - $300 I think - from our group. Things are done collectively in the Fijian way, not individually.

We talk quietly about her mother in Fiji. A woman of 73 and a healthy woman, only ill for a few days. Yaqona is prepared and the men and a couple of women partake, but I move to the second room to play with a three-month-old baby. We are given a nice meal of cassava, chop suey, kokoda, curry, rice, tea and hot-cross buns. We stay about four hours before driving back to Geelong, this time without rain. Our garden will be soaked well which is excellent because we had dug up several areas in the garden this week.

We talk about the TV program about ‘What is happiness’ and decide that contentment doesn’t come with a ten-step program, but often unexpectedly as a gift. Today we have been happy to be with people we know well, to have fulfilled an obligation to a bereaved woman who is a close friend. This Good Friday has been done well.

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