Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Dia de los Muertos

On November 1st and 2nd, like millions of other people throughout the world, I honor friends and family who have passed by observing Dia de los Muertos- The Day of the Dead. For the last ten years I've created a shrine or "ofrenda" that reminds me of the influence that these people have had on my life. I enjoy the process of laying down layers of textiles and arranging the photos, flowers, candles and collection of memories. Each item carries special significance for me and as I arrange them, I am reminded of what I loved about these people...how they made me laugh, how they mentored me. The letter in the lightweight Air Mail envelope is from my grandfather. He wrote it on the occasion of my graduation from high school in 1971. The faded photo of my nephew, David, is a gentle reminder of the fragility of a young mind. Each year, I open the rubber-banded stack of letters from my Uncle Dick and reread each one. His prose continues to resonate long after his death. A beautifully designed memorial card from Mrs. Garcia's service brings back memories of how she sewed my first wedding dress in between caring for children and grandchildren. This year I'll buy another can of Budweiser to sit beside Augie's smiling photo. Paper marigolds replace the fresh flowers that never really took hold in my garden. A plain silver bowl holds water to refresh and cleanse. I arrange a collection of Mexican candles around a photo of Paige, remembering when she brought them back from San Miguel de Allende. Dick, Penny, Gail, Suzanne....all remembered for what made them unique human beings and all loved for their place in my life.

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