Friday, November 02, 2012

Dia de los Muertos, 2012

Today is the feast day of All Souls.

Or Day of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos.

My mother never would have considered honoring the day, except to say that we should pray for those who have died; if she could have hidden from the general public that she was Mexican, I'm sure she would have. However, in Central Pennsylvania, which was in her time so very white and genetically homogenous, her dark-tanning skin and classic Aztec-ian features stood out so that she might as well have carried a billboard on her grand broad shoulders that said "FOREIGNER!!!"

Culturally Mexican (though without the benefit of the secret language) and outwardly white (my cousin Susu and I were the only ones in our generation who turned out with reddish-blonde hair and freckles) I can totally sympathize with people who have a hard time identifying themselves within their populations. I never felt "at home" in Pennsylvania, and when we moved to California, and I began attending Mass in Spanish, I cried, because everybody looked like my cousins.

In spite of Mom's denial of her lineage, Alex and I cling to what Mexican customs we can. Today, Alex decorated the hearth in honor of the day, and it's truly beautiful.

We had the neighbor's kid in the house until evening, and Bernie and I were seeing the first showing of a movie in order to do a review, so we didn't get around to dedicating our midday meal to one or another dead relative. We'll get around to that, in the not-too-distant future.

But in the mean time ... Mom, I read a cartoon strip series last week that had the son begging his mother not to show up to talk to his creative writing class. His mom's friend says to her, "Would you have wanted your parents in one of your high school classes?" The mom answers, "No -- of course not!" Huh, really? Mom, I would never have said that. You were one hell of an entrepreneur, and though we butted heads from time to time, you had my back, and made me confident, and I would have loved to have you in my high school classes. You were da bomb.

Dad ... I miss you so. I miss all the stuff I wanted to wheedle out of you about your childhood, your family, your military service. I wish I could have wandered around the mountains with you more, I wish you could have snuck down to the river with me to fish and catch crayfish.

Jan, you taught me so much in the last weeks of your life. I have this memory, when we had to remove you from Mom's house, because she was forgetting to feed you, of you telling the staff of the group home (in a commanding voice) that you were working for the CIA. They thought that was just cute, but I knew you were telling them that you were not a person to be messed with. You were right. They didn't understand. You were epic.

I love you all, my dear beloved dead. Rest well, pray for me. See you when my time has come.

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