We buried Ra Ra today.
I knew RaRa because I live in a small town where you end up knowing everyone. But more importantly, I knew her because she was a caregiver in the only daycare in Seldovia and my kid was in her care for a couple of hours a day when he was about 2 to 5 years old.
I was always grateful for her. She was an elder; the grandma figure I had deprived my kid of by moving so far away from my family. She never replaced, but taught the old people stuff. She taught the kids to count in Supiaq, she gave my kid a nickname, Gummuck, (I was Big Gummack) I don't remember what it meant, but sometime that is best. (Ask Tracy her nickname.) But she was most successful in teaching them Super Mario and Nintendo 64. She yelled alot, was cantankerous, but whatever. After my kid got older, when she saw him in the store or around town, she kissed him and slipped him some money for candy.
Like most things "village" it is very hard to explain the web of relationships. The give and take of being human and intimate with people that in a larger community you wouldn't have too, or more importantly, get too explore. You find the commons and go from there. It is much richer and much more real. I got to bury her. Put shovel to earth and covered her. It was an honor and an investment.
I took my kid to the funeral at the Russian Orthodox Church. It was hard for a 10 year old; the incense, the dead body, the grief, the place. All a little overwhelming, but it should be, and he was a trooper. When we told him we would like him to go, he didn't protest but wanted more information. He is a good little man and I thank RaRa for giving that lesson too.