It seemed ambitious to pull together our traditional all soul’s celebration after nearly a week up in the mountains, but it was exactly the grounding focus we/I needed. All but the trip to Safeway where I made my annual pilgrimage because I’ll be honest, Whole Foods does not carry the food my departed family ate. I really do not enjoy shopping to begin with, but Safeway challenges my psychological well-being. Self-checkout?!
We had hoped to spend time making a family tree, or starting one, but it will have to wait for next year. A + A loved getting our festivals box out and unfolding our picture banner and decorating our side table. We also spent a couple hours polishing beautiful, but tarnished silver, gifts from a friend from her late cousins, Tom + Marjorie. We talked a lot about family all day. Of course the who’s who conversation and whenever I could, I’d add an anecdote like my aunt liked to make baked ziti or the story my stepmother told me about making dolls with Spanish moss and old Coke bottles when she was a girl in rural, coastal South Carolina.
The girls are so curious about their family that has passed. I’m amazed at their interest, their sense of humor and maturity as we reminisced about their lives. Stephen shared a lot more this year — we learned about his dad’s sisters and his mother’s brothers, bits of their lives and where they lived. Interestingly we’ve passed through western states where some of them lived (New Mexico and California), so it was nice to connect to those experiences.
Having always been a person intrigued by what this is all about and what does death mean…Losing my parents definitely propelled that pondering deeper. Regardless of how great or challenging (or absent for that matter) our relationships are to close family, their death is profound. I want the girls to remember and experience the ways the dead are with us here and now. These aren’t people to put away or a process to be hidden.
As someone said in a Quaker Meeting a couple years ago about the beautiful, but dying, falling leaves during autumn: to remember how in death, we go out in glory.