Today was Tan Mama’s funeral and funeral party. It was held in Advent Church, the sun was shining, the cherry blossom was out and Tan Mama would have been smiling! Just like in these photos of her taken a few years ago!
Tan Mama’s funeral was moving, dignified and fitting, a service that included Holy Communion, in which we thanked God for Tan Mama’s life and commended her into God’s care and keeping. Her ashes were in a box (actually a chocolate biscuit box!) at the front of the church for the service. The church was full, family and friends had come from all over.
Following the service, we moved into the church center for the funeral party. And what a funeral party it was. It was totally in the unique style that is Tan Mama and all the Tan family. She would have loved it!
The church center was decorated with paper flowers and real flowers and with all Tan Mama’s beloved possessions, her large wooden cross decorated with horseshoes (from their own horses), her multi-coloured socks (Tan Mama ALWAYS wore 2 different coloured socks!), her hats with their beautiful feathers, her Bibles and books, her home-made candles, and all the T-shirts. Yes, T-shirts! The Tan family business is T-shirts, and they come in all shapes and sizes, colours and patterns, and with logos or words, many designed by Tan Mama herself. And her homemade wine was offered to everyone for a toast!
Tan Mama and Tan Baba have 4 children and 5 grandchildren, and all were there – the grandchildren sang 2 songs, and the whole family sang a song….
Some friends gave short tributes, some sang songs, others recalled happy memories of Tan Mama. I was the last to speak, and fondly remembered Tan Mama’s love for parties. She was the party girl of Advent Church! Whenever and wherever there was a party, Tan Mama would be there. And wherever Tan Mama was, there was always the potential for a party. If Tan Mama decided to have a party, well, it happened big-time. She was the life and soul of any and every social event!
I’ve found many photos in my collection, taken over the last 6 or more years, many of them at parties or social events. Spot Tan Mama in the middle of each, smiling away!
Anyway, back to the funeral party today. After the sharing time, we had yummy food to eat, and we were all given potted plants and chocolate-filled Easter eggs to take home. Y’know, it was quite an occasion, never has Advent Church seen any funeral party like this!
Tan Mama died on March 3, peacefully in her sleep. These last 2 years have been difficult ones for her and the family after she suffered a bad stroke in January 2016, but she valiantly rose to the challenge and determined to walk again, which she did, with some help. What was amazing was the way the family cared for her and devoted their time and energy to the task. It is just so moving to see their love in action.
Tan Mama’s No. 8 younger sister came to the funeral. Here she is today, standing in the centre, next to the Tan family cross with the horseshoes, with Hannah (wife of Advent Church rector, Rev. Lennon Y. R. Chang) on the left, and Janet Tan on the right….
Tan Mama was the oldest child in her family, with 10 younger siblings, and her family were Christians, all living in Sichuan, China. She studied at West China Union University 華西協合大學 in Chengdu, and in about 1948-9 came with her then-fiancé to Taiwan – they married in Gangshan, southern Taiwan, where Tan Baba was stationed in the air force. That was a period of major political upheaval in China, and like many others who came to Taiwan at the time, they had no idea that they would not be allowed any contact with their families back home for decades to come. And so, sadly, Tan Mama was never able to see her parents again. In recent decades, visits have been possible, and these days, we’re glad that No. 8 sister is able to come from Sichuan and visit, she is so delightful!
We truly thank God for Tan Mama’s long and amazing life (95 years or thereabouts, we never quite knew what year we were celebrating with Tan Mama!), her joyful spirit, her cheerfulness and friendliness, her warm hospitality and generosity, her witness for Christ and her dedication to her family. And when I say ‘family’, I also mean all the animals that are so much part of the Tan family – their horses, dogs, cats and geese. Nobody else in Taiwan has quite the family that Tan Mama has. Yes, the Tan family are quite amazing!
This is Tan Mama in years gone by….
Tan Mama and Tan Baba recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, and Tan Baba celebrated his 100th birthday only last week. They were such a support for each other, and it will not be easy adapting to life without Tan Mama. We were so pleased to see Tan Baba today, and he posed for many photos….
We pray for Tan Baba and all the Tan family to know God’s strength and comfort in their time of loss. Tan Mama was one very special lady, and we will miss her, but we thank God for her life and the blessing that she was to so many of us. May she rest in peace and rise and glory.