Lives past and new life

It’s so often the case that holidays coincide across faiths and cultures; those that come at the edge of Winter and the beginning of Spring and even Halloween- the playful, scary, sugar-charged day that children love and teachers dread. Today- October 31st and then November 1st and 2nd are collectively known as  "Los dias de los Muertos": The Days of the Dead. Sequentially, they are All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day and they have their origins first in pagan times and then in the Christian Church, dating back to the seventh century.

First and foremost, the Days of the Dead is a time when families fondly remember the deceased.  But it is also a time marked by festivities, including spectacular parades of skeletons and ghouls.  In one notable tradition, revelers lead a mock funeral procession with a live person inside a coffin.

Last year, right as I was handing out candy and Rich was having a beer with his brothers, we got the call we had been expecting; their father had died peacefully after a long bout with Alzheimers. Before that disease ravaged his memory, he was a strict and loving father, a husband twice widowed, a WWII hero, a steward of his faith and a ballroom dancer extraordinaire. Later, just before Bill left for Iraq, we all gathered at Arlington National Cemetery for Norman’s internment. Yesterday I posted a picture of all four brothers in the same college yearbook. Here is a picture of the four of them at Arlington- Rich, Bill, Jon and Calvin.Arlington_69

The other significant event of this past weekend is the birth of baby Alexis. I wrote about a month ago that I was eagerly awaiting her arrival. My children are grown but not grown enough for children. But this one! I have loved her mother and father for years and now there is this breath of new life. She is a wish come true for Chris and Juanita and she is my golden opportunity to dress up as a grandmother. How do you like my disguise? And yes- she is perfectly beautiful and eminently snuffable.Fauxgrandma

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12 responses to “Lives past and new life

  1. Them’s fine-lookin’ lads. And a fine-lookin’ baby and and fine-lookin’ granny.

    But, tell me, are you going to do 50,000 words of NaNoWriMo about diarrhea? I think I would be about 5,000 words short.

  2. HAPPY HALLOWEEN VICKI!! Yesterday, I heard a saying about death that was rather comforting. I hope I can explain it the way I heard it.

    A young tulip pushes itself up through the ground, and finds itself surrounded by many other tulips. In order to make room for the new tulip so it can grow big and strong, the old tulips die back. The new tulip can now mature into the grand flower it is. Eventually then, it has to make room for the next new tulip, and dies back – And so on and so on. Ultimately, death is the process of making room for new life.

    Kinda interesting concept.
    Beautiful baby, by the way!

  3. Death and birth are equal yet opposite parts of life. To have one we must have the other. Death can come bitter sweet, as a tragedy or as a great release from suffering. I try very hard to celebrate the life and not dwell on my loss because I was privileged to be apart of something bigger than I. My mother thinks I am hard hearted and cold because I don’t cry and wail and carry on for weeks after. I stay away from all of that kind of mourning, surely it can’t be healthy, but we all grieve in our way.

    That is a gorgeous baby. I know you all are blessed by one another.

    Happy Hallowe’en, Vicki 🙂

  4. I love the structure of your post today. I had something very intelligent to add, and then I saw the baby pic. ( I *love* babies! I *love* children (as long as they’re someone elses)!)

    That’s one of the cutest newborn babies I’ve ever seen. Usually they look kinda wrinkly and alien? But she is perfect.

  5. That baby looks good on ‘ya 😉 Any of those good lookin’ brothers single?????

  6. That baby looks good on ‘ya 😉 Any of those good lookin’ brothers single?????

  7. I’m not sure about the live person in the coffin; it reminds me of something that happend my first year in med school but that is for another time.

    Only rarely does a pathologist have to do an autopsy on a patient they see and talk to while still living. Once this happened to me. At first it felt very strange but the experience hammered home a valuable lesson. Our spirits are what makes us who we are; how we interact with others. even how we look. When the spirit leaves at death, just the shell remains. This particular person was a lovely older man, pleasent to speak to and I frequently did business in his shop. At the autopsy, I didn’t recognize him at all. What made him the man his family loved and cherished was no longer in that vessel. It drove home the fact that our spirit makes the memories; that part of us that our loved ones and people we see everyday will keep in their hearts and that is what is important.

    And what a sweet, sweet little spirit we can see in Baby Alexis. She will bring abundant great joy and moments of trepidation for her parents. And we are both too young to be grandparents! (We will just keep telling ourselves that)

  8. What a special photo of the band of brothers and poignant memories of their dad. Vicki–the look of joy and pride on your face looking down at that baby is priceless. She is a beauty.

  9. Alexis is a beauty and so is her faux-grandma. Get good practice with her so you’ll be a step-up with your own.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, Vicki.

    I like this idea of death: Think of it like a ship that leaves port. Eventually it fades from our view over the horizon, but as it fades from our view – it is coming into view of others over another horizon.

  10. I knew nothing about the “day of the dead” until we lived in Half Moon Bay, Ca. There it was celebrated as much as Halloween, if not more. Growing up in Catholic school, we always had Nov. 1st off because it was a Holy Day of Obligation. We could trick-or-treat without worry of school the next day. How spoiled I was!

    The picture of you & the baby is beautiful. Both of you.

  11. That baby is unusually pretty. Such lovely skin! Congratulations to the parents and to “Granny”.

  12. She’s just perfect! Congratulations 🙂

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