Envelopes with Money

4 Mar

On Sunday nights I teach a Junior High girl English. It is the shittiest time of the week to teach English but she’s a nice student so I agreed. This past Sunday she asked if I knew about so and so’s mother who had passed away?

This is the middle of frickin nowhere and news usually travels relatively quickly. It had been a week. I am in the midst of trying not to be run over by the translation bus so haven’t been venturing through the next town much in search of more extravagent shopping items such as lasagna sheets and nice cheese, both of which I have to travel 45 minutes to get. Had I been through the time I might have noticed the funeral board that stands on the main road directing people to the house for the wake (usually held the night after the passing) and the funeral (the day after the wake).

I got hub to write our name on the funeral envelope (like any household in Japan we have a whole drawer full of envelopes for funerals, celebrations, and plain ones for money for hospital visits and the like. Japan doesn’t do grapes and flowers). Hub was made to do calligraphy as a child and thus has very fine brushmanship skills. He thinks he’s shit of course but he is fabulous. Took him four envelopes to get one he was satisfied with. And then he bloody realised he’d written it with the envelope upside down. A huge no no as the envelopes have a black line down one side due to the way it is folded. You can actually unfold the entire envelope but it has to be folded the right way. Funerals fold right over left, I think)

After dropping the kids off and such I had to then get to the bank to get a new 5,000 yen note. New crisp notes don’t come out of the ATM very often so receiving a money envelope with one in it is proof that the person has taken time out to go to the actual bank to get it. Well, at least I presume that is why people do it? As far as I know it’s notalthough the way the money is facing can be, as in when you open it is the dudes face on the bill looking at you or not.

Before heading out the door to the bank I asked Granny K if I had to gong the little gong at the altar at my friend’s house or did I just have to light incense and pray. She immediately had me up about what I was wearing and said I absolutely, without a doubt, had to wear a black jacket. I’m too fat for my own one so she lent me one of hers.

I know, right? If I can’t fit my own how on earth can I fit hers. She’s like 3ft tall and only weights 40kg. She said she usually wears it over like 7 vests so it didn’t look that big!! It actually was presentable enough for me to wear so I took it and headed out the door, right into an oncoming bug. As in, it flew straight into my mouth and lodged itself in the back of my throat. It wasn’t like Silence of the Lambs moth big bit it was enough to not let me get enough air down my pipes.

My body dry wretched a few times and then up came peanut butter on toast (well, quite obviously not actually on the toast anymore), two cups of coffee and a bug. I presume. I wasn’t really looking for it as I hosed the nasties down the driveway but I was having a better time breathing so presume it dislodged itself. Ya never know, it might have had a peanut allergy. Might have been a lactose and gluten intolerant bug with a peanut allergy.

Wiping my tears away I declared the situation in need of some big black sunglasses. I get to the bank, get my crisp 5,000 yen bill and then drive to my friend’s house in the next town over. Fortunately this takes 20 minutes so I was able to replace my Jacki O’s with my usual glasses to enter the house no that my eyes weren’t all watery.

The week of crazy funeral preparations, relatives and so forth had just finished. She was home alone. Well, Granny was there in a box with a lovely photo but her hub and kids had just gone back to work and school that morning. I lit a stick of incense and prayed. I didn’t gong the gong. My friend talked about everything that had happened and then we had a chat about dogs and trips home and the like and then I excused myself. Don’t want to overstay your welcome at these things.

And do you know what? I thought a lot about my own mum yesterday and didn’t get upset enough to bring tears to my eyes.

But then perhaps the tears from vomiting up bugs was enough for one day.


PS. Is getting tears when you vomit normal? I try not to make it a regular occurence but when it happens I always end up with tears streaming down my face for a minute.


7 Responses to “Envelopes with Money”

  1. stellastarstruck March 4, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Up here where I live, we DON’T give new bills for funerals. It’s a signal that you’ve been planning for it to happen. New bills are for weddings! Funny how areas differ.

    I’m sorry about the bug. I get them all the time when I ride my bike. They either aim for my eyes or my mouth. The eye one is worse, especially when I’m crossing a street and need to see!

    And…I’m glad that you didn’t break down at the visitation. Grief is a funny thing though.

    • gaijinwife March 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      OMG – I wonder i’ve completely fucked it up!! I got to the bank and asked for the 5,000 bill and the bank lady asked if I wanted new ones and I said yes…. but I haven’t given a funeral one for a while. Maybe it is only celebrations you give new ones. I will have to investigate!! Thankyou 🙂 Bugs when you are biking, especially over intersections, I’m sure equals danger!!

  2. Elly March 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Bug in face thing is my nightmare, you have my sympathies 😦 We have massive mofo mukade lurking over our genkan for half the year just waiting to plop down into my hair as I’m fumbling with the key. Hasn’t happened yet but I live in fear.
    Re your PS, that’s definitely normal for me, I get streaming eyes after throwing up 🙂 Without fail. Nothing quite so glamourous as a snivelling, sobbing woman wiping vomit off her mouth, eh 😉

    • Lauren March 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

      Yep, I get tears when I puke too. Lots of them.

  3. Tash March 4, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    Yep, I get tears on the rare occasions that I vomit. That random bug in the mouth encounter sounds awful!!!!

  4. Brenda in Nagano March 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Always tear/cry when I puke. Always.

  5. Casey March 6, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    I was under the impression that you give wrinkly bills for funerals too. The bug/vomit sequence cracked me up 🙂

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