Saturday, September 26, 2009

Marta's funeral

Thursday afternoon, on a very rainy day, Dona Marta was laid to rest. Marta was 43yrs old. She had uterine cancer which was not detected till too late. Unfortunately, this is more often the case than not in Guatemala. Dona Marta had a very difficult life. A single mother of six children, her husband abandoned her about 7 years ago and has never been financially responsible for the children or been to visit them.

About 4 1/2 years ago her then 15yr old daughter died at the hospital after suffering stomach pains. We are not sure exactly what the diagnosis was but it may have been that her appendix ruptured. Several months after that her youngest child, approx. 2yrs old died of stomach illness. The family did not have money to seek medical treatment.

When Marta was diagnosed with uterine cancer we were able to organize chemotherapy for her but she was too scared to go to the city and to a hospital. Mayan Families, through generous donations have supported the medical care for Marta, have provided food for her children and school sponsorship. We have tried to allievate the horrible pain that Marta suffered. We are all pleased that she is no longer in pain . Her youngest children are still very young, 8, 11 and 13yrs old. Glendy is 17yrs old, another brother, 18yrs and the eldest brother 20yrs old. There is an elder sister, 24yrs old but she is married with three children and lives a long way away in another village. Glendy has been responsible for nursing her mother, bathing her, changing her diapers while also making meals for her brothers and washing all the clothes by hand.
Marta's coffin leaves the house and is prepared to be carried all the way to the cemetary as is the custom in Guatemala.

Glendy being comforted by friends and family.

The procession begins the long walk to the cemetary.

Women always go in front of the coffin, single file on both sides of the road, carrying bunches of flowers

It started pouring rain as the procession continued to the cemetary. They had held a church service with a pastor at the house.
As is the custom in Guatemala, family and friends had spent the night sitting by the coffin. There is a little window in the coffin where you can view the person's face.
Before the burial, the smaller children were lifted to the coffin to kiss the glass window above their mother's face.

After a short service at the cemetary, the coffin was placed in a cement resting place, right next to the mother that we attended the funeral of just a week ago. There have been three funerals in the past ten days of mothers who have passed away much too soon. A total of 14 children in three families left motherless in ten days is too much.

After the coffin is placed in its resting place, a bag with Marta's all of Marta's clothing and possessions are put next to the coffin and then it is sealed with cement. The flowers will then be placed around the resting place on a ledge and above. Later the cement slab will be painted with Marta's name and maybe a painting of something that was important to her.

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