Reposted from October 2018…
Now when it comes to talking about Dia de los Muertos… as a white, middle aged, blond haired, green eyed guera, I consider myself no entitled-ass expert over here or anything. But know this- while I am not Mexican by birth I married one, we’re raising three, AND I made alters for Dia de los Muertos before the movie Coco came out. To further prove my bit of street cred, I totally love all things to do with the Mexican culture. Also I’m taking Spanish lessons on Rosetta Stone. So like… Yo tengo sandwiches, ya dig?
Continue reading “Dia de los Muertos Ofrenda… no Offend-a”
So- I’m just going to put this out there to the universe that maybe if it could stop with the making-people-I-love-drop-dead shit that’d be great. What am I comfortable with putting on the page? Or can even verbalize? I guess that loss and grieving is ubiquitous and is just the payment we give for loving others? Sure. Why not.
I had a Dutch teacher (she used to bike 15 miles to class with one of her pet rats in a carrier and then teach the class in sweaty bike shorts. The rat would sit on her desk. College is weird.) who didn’t really ever feel a need to stay on the Dutch topic at hand and would often digress into Buddhist thinking/teaching she was mulling around. One Tuesday morning (Ma’am, it’s too damn early for this crap.) she was talking about how we should see the loss of a baby as equally tragic as a 90 year old who was one day away from death. That all life is weighted equally. And yeah… that’s a big nope. Nope, nope, nope, ye ol’ rat loving professor. In Dutch? Rat liefhebbende proffessor. (How did I only make a B in this class? It’s 60% English and conjugated like Yoda… sheesh)
But life potential, happiness conglomerated, and the opportunity of having experienced much outta a long lifetime- it DOES come into play. And the death too- not too painful, and not too sudden… It’s a complex formula that never quite gets us to a “good death” but it makes the loss easier if you know your grandmother lived life to the fullest. If she was 89. And had the opportunity to laugh hysterically with all the other wives of their RV traveling/gambling group at a male stripper in Vegas doing a basketball player routine that one time back in the 80s. And then tell her granddaughter about it all those years later. And many other, inappropriate and hysterical stories. No shrinking violet- life is too short to waste it being meek- I think that’s the main lesson I learned from her.
Pfft. How great could she have been if she hadn’t taught her teenaged granddaughter to draw on a pair of eyebrows already?
She was a good one, that lady. I will miss her.
She was tiny but she was mighty.
And may my own toddler follow in her namesake’s footsteps with that same mirth flickering in her eyes all of her live long days.
I’d LIKE to think sharing this article is not like drinking spoiled milk and going “oh my God- taste this!”
It was hard to read. Read it!
It’s an article by a favorite writer of mine about mothering her dying friend through Hospice care. And the whole article is lovely and haunting, what with it’s ripping the curtain back from the Wizard of Oz- only it’s Death, always Death behind the curtain. (Jesuschrist, woman. Downer much on a Sunday?) So yes- the whole article is hard to read- but important. The thought that gets me is that her friend asked for champagne, right before she died. She was told, “No, it’s 6am we don’t have any champagne.” God help me- god help me to give someone champagne. Please – please let someone give me champagne before I die if that’s what I want. Agh. It’s the detail that gets me on that. For some reason that’s the thing that haunts me.
I think it haunts me because I can draw correlations to my grandfather’s last day. He was very antsy. Plucking at the arms of his wheel chair. Agitated. He wanted to stand repeatedly. In the middle of a small concert of hymns. In his room. In the hallway. I called an orderly over each time. We heaved him up by his belt and under his arms. He stood for as long as he could each time. It was important to him. I hope it was his champagne.
On that afternoon I got him a new tank of oxygen. Wheeled him around the facility. Here’s the garden. Here’s your room. Here’s the other hallway. He fell asleep looking out a window in the main living space as I rubbed his shoulders and hummed Silent Night- just like I hummed to my children. The window was overlooking a large red oak tree. The tree was pretty but I picked that one because it also overlooked Dean Word Construction Company’s back property. You could see all sorts of loaders, and backhoes, and heavy equipment. I thought he’d like that.
I sat with him as he slept. And when my Aunt and Uncle got there I left for home. It was just hours later my brother called me to say he died in his sleep as my Dad and my aunt sang and played piano for him. He won his long fight.
Anyway. I don’t know what my point on this one was. I saw some correlations between that article and past experience and it’s opened the wound that is everyone’s mortality for me a bit. It’s… all okay though. Because it has to be- because it’s always been the truth here- the price we pay for being here is to eventually leave and I get that. And that’s okay too. Not easy in the slightest, I’ll sure as hell tack that on though.