"People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state—it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle... Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one's actions." ~ The Wisdom of Heschel
This morning I am wishing that I am Samantha from Bewitched. If only I could magically twitch my nose and have the misplaced items of my life (that are haphazardly lying here and there about the house) fly through the rooms to settle into their rightful places. I can vividly imagine the stacks of papers and receipts feeling compelled to jump to attention and file themselves one-by-one in an orderly fashion. How lovely it would be if last night's dishes washed and dried themselves and then cooperatively hopped into the cabinets and drawers. And the mop, under its own accord, cleaned the tile floors, efficiently swishing into all the nooks and crannies. The vacuum, not wanting to be deemed lazy, roars to life and quickly sucks up all the dust from the earth-colored carpets. The scrub brushes, not to be outdone, would come to life in a flurry of activity and make the bathrooms shine. The laundry would sort itself, enjoy a brisk bath, and then toss themselves in the dryer. Later in the day I'd discover the clothing hanging in the closet or folded nicely and uniformly in drawers. Daydreaming of this nature is lovely and ultimately futile. What I really need to conjure for myself is a little motivation.
I keep reminding myself that Sistercation 2014 is happening in five weeks. And, at my house! So, I need to get to it. Yet all the piles of stuff that I should be dealing with keep pulling me in to investigate further like I'm falling down the rabbit hole. A big time sink is the ongoing effort to sort a collection of five generations of family photographs that are now strewn across a long dining room table that is set-up in my family room specifically for an ongoing project like this. The photographs also extend to a myriad of boxes stacked on the floor. It is no small endeavor. There are seemingly miles of photographs to sort by family and era. The collection includes sepia-toned images dating back to the 1800s. Then, of course, there are all the photographic slides to deal, too. When my extended family is gathered for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to present a family slide show that features slides that my dad and my father-in-law captured back in the 60s and early 70s. Now, if I can only find the slide projector and big white screen that are buried somewhere in the garage. If it ain't one thing, it's another!
My sisters and I jokingly refer to me as the family repository. Not only do I have thousands of photographs, but I have also collected our families written correspondence. The letters include the letters my Papa wrote to my Nana while he served on a navy ship in the Pacific during WWII. I fantasize about putting together books that combine family photos and excerpts from the letters and give them as holiday gifts. I can assure you my grand plan won't happen this year. I've got too much to do and not enough time to do it, let alone adding in a specialty project of that scope. Still, it's fun to think about.
I remind myself to live in the present while I am drawn into the past. I can spend hours upon hours sifting through my family's history, while I chide myself that I have more important things to do, such as putting the house in order for the holidays and getting a jump on family meals that I can freeze, such as The Best Ever Bolognese Sauce and tasty Demi-Glacé to make a quick Grilled Steak Diane.
I try to console myself for the hours that slide by that I am partaking in an important part of living. And, that is, to remember those that have gone before us and to learn from the lessons of history. As I sort through the photos, invariably one will catch my attention, and I'll stop to take a closer look and really examine the image of an era gone by. If it really captures my attention, I scan it and occasionally I will share the photo on Facebook so that my extended family, including my cousins that are scattered near and far, can share in the fun. I enjoy reading their responses... thank you social media!
I'm old enough to have multiple chapters in my own life that have opened and closed. My memories are tidily cataloged in photo albums—those thick volumes that sit on bookcase shelves gathering dust that I should be, at this very moment, swiping clean with a feather duster. Every once in a while I'll pull down a particular album—my high school days, my four-month-European vacation, my wedding, the birth of my daughter, wonderful childhood Christmases at my Nana and Papa's and Grandma and Grandpa's—dust it off, and smile wistfully as I flip through the pages. Occasionally the feelings are so acute that I'll be moved to tears. Then a line of a poem or whole verse will move through my mind to punctuate the feeling that is flowing through me, which is invariably the feeling of loss.
Thinking of my Nana, she passed away as Kurt Gibson famously hit the grand slam during game one of the 1988 World Series that fell on October 15th. Naturally, with the anniversary of her death and my annual preparations during the month of October for celebrating Day of the Dead, my thoughts always include memories of my Nana.
I fondly recall that whenever the family was together and something good was going on Nana would say, "Stop the clock, stop the clock." She knew time was passing quickly and soon we'd be apart. Nana wanted more than anything for time to stand still so she could stay in those moments that made her and all of us so happy.
Stop All The Clocks
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now;
put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
~W. H. Auden
|I adore this portable shrine.
|My sister Juliette, and cousins, Avalon (Juliette's daughter) and Maddie (my daughter).
We will meet again one day
On a far and distant shore
Don’t think that because I’m gone
I won’t see you anymore
Although we won’t touch again
Til the night time turns to day
The love we held within us
Will never go away.
Hold on to thoughts of me
My dreams are all for you
Although I’ve crossed the endless sea
These words I speak are true
Like drifting yacht I slipped away
And vanished in the mist
But I am beside you always
Can you still feel our kiss.
And time will come to heal your heart
Like the stream smoothes the stone
If you will just remember me
You will never be alone.
And so with friends gone before
I watch you and I wait
And when the time comes at last
I’ll be waiting at your gate.
|In the late afternoon, spectators began lining the sidewalks and sitting on the overpasses.
|I'm not sure why burritos are the enemy, but it is art all the same.
My sister Juliette and I have made a concerted effort over the past few years to make attending the All Souls Procession an annual event. Last year, we had three generations of our family gathered in the streets of Tucson to take part in the community celebration of remembering those whom we have loved and lost. For me my thoughts combine the figurative and metaphorical. I endeavor to think well of and say blessings for friends who are no longer in my life. Although we may no longer enjoy a close relationship, they continue to play an active part in my memory and have key roles in my favorite stories. I push on through the sadness to keep searching for the light, grace, humor and love that exists in everyday life.
|While the cool kids wait for the procession to start...
|...Juliette paints her grandson's face.
|Juliette's daughter, Sonora.
“Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” ~ Joseph Campbell
|Yes! Traditional Folklorico dancers.
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Juliette's Grass-Fed Ground Beef Tacos