Soaked already to the skin, I stood under the broad leaf of a banana tree for shelter from the pounding rain. Across the road the usual duality of a local funeral proceeded.
Inside the family home across the road the body of he who was Linter Tolenna laid in state, his grief-stricken daughters gathered around his lifeless corpse, weeping and wailing.
Outside the community brought tribute in the form of taro, breadfruit, coconuts, sugar cane, rice, kettles of Kosraen soup, and slaughtered pigs.
Deaf mute Paul, a short-statured man, bailed water from the bottom of the grass pit. The dug dirt around the new grave funneled water into the grave faster than Paul and his red plastic basin could bail the water back out.
Unheard under the thundering rain, the sons and elders took turns standing in the rain and speaking to the sodden crowd.
From under a neighboring banana leaf Palikun noted that death in Piyuul is always accompanied by rain, although few could remember such a day long torrential downpour.
With the light fading from the sky unusually early due to the weather, Linter's family lifted up his body and placed him into a coffin. As an eerie green darkness fell on Piyuul, the sons and sons-in-law carried the coffin across the road to where Paul continued to valiantly bail.
Paul climbed up out of the grave, shivering in the cold rain. The rest of the extended family crossed the road and huddled in the rain next to the grave. Everyone had their arms wrapped tightly around themselves in a vain attempt to find warmth.
The coffin was placed next to the grave and a middle aged man, a son of Linter, spoke. His words came between heaving breaths of emotion. His final words trailed off into tears as his face knotted up with intense emotion. His face dissolved and softened in the dense rain. Suddenly the middle aged man was a little boy again, crying as he had not in forty years, saying goodbye to his papa. The emotions of the years melted away until only the love a boy held for his father remained.
With that memory, his father's coffin was lowered into the pit of heavy red clay.
Young men began carrying the large kettles of steaming hot soup, dispersing them around the home and along the road in the rain.
Young women in floral applique skirts and wet t-shirts came with ladles and bowls to each pot to serve Kosraen soup to the gathered throng. The giant soup pots had kept the rice, coconut milk, and pork stew burning hot despite sitting in the rain.
The young women arranged the soup bowls on trays and then filled each bowl with piping hot soup. The young women then moved through the shivering masses dispensing bowls of soup and smiles.
A demure young girl bearing a tray of soup came towards me, the heavy rain course down her brown face, her long black hair gleaming in the green dusk. With a shiver she lifted the tray towards me.
Steam rose up from the bowls as raindrops splattered into the stew. I took a bowl and thanked her as if we were at some formal outdoor party.
Young men began redistributing the tribute. Each person received a palm leaf basket with a coconut, a chunk of taro, breadfruit, a hunk of raw pork, and a long stalk of sugar cane. With the redistribution, people drifted away into the darkness with their baskets.
Dark water ran across the asphalt road as I carried my tribute basket and my stalk of sugar cane back home. I shuffled along slowly in the blackness lost in memories of good times I had with my own father.
The next morning another boy become father made memories with his son in the waves on the shallows of the reef in Piyuul. As Marlin clung to the boogie board, I would give him a push start in front of a small wave.
The wave would carry Marlin a short distance towards the sand and coral cobble beach. Marlin liked the rides, but got scared when at the end of one ride the wave tumbled him off the board sideways and into the water. Then the wave barrel-rolled Marlin underwater once along the reef.
Marlin regained his feet in the thigh deep water, but he had lost his nerve for the moment, tears in his eyes. We walked home for lunch hand-in-hand.
That evening Marlin regaled his cousins with the story of giant wave that tumbled him. "Vizh-vizh!" went Marlin as he mimicked the sound of the foamy wave rolling over him. He raised his arms into the air, mixing them about, while spinning under them, showing how he was violently rolled underwater. He was excited to go back the next day and do more surfing. He blamed his tumble on daddy's push and insisted on starting by himself the next day.
The next day after a few attempts to start on his own, Marlin asked me to push him. A nice wave came across the reef and I gave the board a good push. The wave picked Marlin and the board up and sent him towards the beach. The board started to turn, but this time Marlin leaned left and kept the board pointed for shore. He sailed all the way to the beach. As I watched him being carried away I knew my job in life. To give him a good push into the wave of life and happy memories of his childhood.
The above should be taken as a story. The story was modified with respect to some of the family relationships.