Raising the Dead

Most everybody has been posting about Halloween, except dear Bonnie who chooses to celebrate the Reformation. She has a thing for Martin. I imagine Miz. S is suffering the aftermath of Halloween in her classroom today: ka-boing!!! It could be worse.

Me? After a busy couple of weeks I settled down today here at my desk to pay bills and get caught up on mail (and I’m STILL trying to find someone who will bring a masonry drill over here and hang pictures. I also have some shelves to hang but I have never been very good at finding studs…Pino666a so I need to hire that out as well.) Anyway, let’s see: pay bills or celebrate Dia de Los Muertos?

Dia de Los Muertos is the day when the spirits of the dead are able to come back and visit, providing that the living facilitate this with food and drink and a path of
orange marigold petals from grave to house. Altars and tombs also feature candles to light the way, water for the dead to drink and salt for the journey. It’s a day when the poor wander the graveyards and beg for the right to pray for the spirits in exchange for food. Children mark the holiday with sugar skulls and small figurines set up in displays. Actually, it’s a two day holiday. Today, Nov 1st, is Day of the Little Dead (children) and tomorrow is for the adult dead spirits.Babyskulls03

Noches de Los Muertos was last night and, if I were on Isla de Mujeres, as I was a number of years ago, I would have spent the night in the cemetery where graves and altars are stacked upon graves and altars. I would have watched the locals sit and wait and make music and eat and laugh and pray as they wait for their loved ones’ spirits to return and visit.

Right here in Chicago, the temps are in the 20s these nights and no way am I spending the night in the courtyard with candles and bread. Fortunately, I have the ashes of my mother and my father right here with me- and they are the dead I would like to welcome. This is especially true of my sweet feisty mother because that loss is still a fresh wound on my heart. I would like to show her around my new home and neighborhood. Here are the things I want to share with her, right this minute:

1. My clever bird feeding arrangement, designed to attract something other than sparrows and rats. I have a thistle feeder plus a little snack tray with some raisins, suet and a bit of pomegranite set up on the balcony outside my third floor office. The goldfinches have found it and slate juncos and this morning I had a hairy woodpecker (YES!). The sparrows still have a home here too, but this set up minimizes the crapping hordes in the courtyard and makes for well positioned cat TV.

2. The zoo. I would tell her all that being a docent involves and share this picture I took on Monday. This stunning silverback was considering a new chow that was being introduced to his diet.

3. Daniel’s new CD and tour news. (he loved Spain; Grenada was his favorite gig of all.)

4. Pictures of the children.

5. All of the Christmas and zygocactus are in full bloom. Even the giant peach colored one in a 10 inch pot survived the move and has hundreds of buds.

6. A cup of tea and a chat. This would be so lovely. I wouldn’t even mind if she got off on politics and the upcoming election for a bit.

That’s it. Just an afternoon visit from my dead mother. A chance to catch up. Give her a hug. Tell her I miss her.

Who would you like to welcome back for a Dia de Los Muertos visit?



16 responses to “Raising the Dead

  1. I don’t really know if I’d want them to come back really. Why would they want to leave the place of perfect peace, perfect health and perfect joy! I wouldn’t want to come back here. But I do miss my grandparents and while I can’t hear their voices, they are always in my heart.

    Your mother would be very pleased to see you in your new life, new aspirations, new birds. But then, she knows, she’s right there with you in your heart.

  2. I would love a visit today from my grandmother. She adored Mexico, and, though a good Scots Presbyterian, she loved the Mexican blend of Catholicism and paganism. She would think Dia de los Muertos a good day to return.

  3. I would like to welcome back my Dad for one day. On this exact day last year he passed away suddenly…massive heart attack they said. I guess I didn’t see that coming, he was healthy and active and teaching art at the local college.I guess I am a few months ahead of you in this year of greiving…and on this one year anniversary I believe it to be the hardest day of all to get through, but also it feels like there is some closure to this still “fresh wound” in my heart. Hang in there Vicki…you are doing a wonderful job at keeping it all together.

  4. I think Bonnie’s post on the Reformation is kind of apropo, since they’re doing some kind of reformation with her beloved Spartans today.

    Hate to sound tacky, but I wonder if there are any “Dio/Noche de los Muertes” souvenirs for sale down south of the border. I’m always looking for the latest grisly addition to my Halloween yard display.

    (Just love Halloween and I can’t believe I didn’t post a Halloween blog this year. I did blog plenty about Halloween last)

  5. Tough question. The only person I care about that is dead is my grandfather but I would hate to disturb him after 15 years of peace. I may choose to call on whomever is restless in this house and try to straighten that mystery out. But that has a downside too…

    I think I’ll just take a rain check.

    I had never heard of The Day of The Dead until we lived in Half Moon Bay, CA. It is a big deal there. Us Catholics just trick or treat and then get to mass on the first for All Saints Day. I would always say an extra thank you prayer that we were lucky enough to have the day after Halloween off from school each year. 🙂

  6. You linked to Herr Luther! You are a true friend, indeed!

    Your lower photo is why I prefer to call gorilla pose by its Sanskrit name: Padahastasana.

    SPARTANS aren’t phased by “Dear John” letters, Big Dave.

    You and your mother will meet again soon, dear Vicki! (((hugs)))

  7. I would love to have a visit with my father again. He died in 1964. I was 22. A few years ago I found myself grieving for him in a way I had not known. And then I realized that I had never really known him as an adult. I went away to college at 18 and basically was not at home again after that. I would have loved to have known him as a grownup and to have enjoyed the friendship with him.

    I would wish that he could have known my husband and my children and so that they could have known the kind, gentle man that he was.

    I would love to be able to visit with my husband and say the things to him that were left unsaid.

  8. I would like to have a conversation with my grandmother and great-grandmother. They have been gone many years, but I still miss them both.

    That silverback looks so wise (and a but perturbed).

    Now tell me: a hairy woodpecker? Sounds a bit redundant……LOL

  9. That’s a tough decision, but I would have to go with inviting my two dead brothers back. I would like to tell them about my girls, and how much I have missed them over the years. And I would love to see my grandparents again so they could hear the girls play the piano, sing, and share stories of their lives.

  10. Well, a visit from my Dad would be nice, but too hard, I think, knowing it was just a quickie.

    I’m a woos.

    I’ll bet your mom is tagging along right behind you.

  11. Josh’s grandmother, who died just over a year ago at the age of 100. I miss her determined, opinionated self more than I ever knew I would. Unexpected tears are blinding me right now.

  12. I would dearly love to have a conversation with my dad. He’s been gone for nearly 15 years, and I still think of him everyday. There’d be so much catching up to do, that I think I would just hold his hands, and tell him how much I still love him. He was a kind and gentle man who adored his children with a love that outlasted his breath.

    Your gorilla picture reminds me of a post I did a while back discussing why it was an insult to these incredible beasts to compare George Bush to them. All those photos of Bush with his beastly face, but not a single image of him as introspective as a Silveback.

  13. My dad. He died in March and I miss him every day.

  14. I couldn’t possibly pick one. I’ll just have to wait until I am able to be with them all.

  15. Have you read the newest book by Mitch Albom called “One More Day”? Not a very good book, but it’s about this idea of visiting with loved ones who have passed away.

    I loved the pics and info about Dia de los Muertos that you included in this post. There is a large Mexican population where I am in NJ and I see the women stocking up on orange flowers and favorite foods for their altars in the days before, but think the celebrations here must be private ones as I’ve never seen the type of public displays that I know are so common in the southwest. Pam at Tortoise Trail (pashack1.blogspot.com) did a post recently about it – interesting stuff.

    When I was teaching Spanish I had always wanted to do a *real* lesson about the day, with an altar and the beautiful little skulls made from sugar, but was too afraid of scaring the kids with thoughts of their dead relatives visitng them in the night. I don’t think our society has as healthy a way of dealing with death as the Mexican culture does.

  16. Vicki….Doesn’t your dear husband know what a studfinder is? It is so easy to operate and saves so much time. They cost about $10…..My mom…I miss her…..she very rarely had a bad thing to say about anyone. I don’t think I ever could shake being her “little boy”…now I wish I could still see her.

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