Monday, March 15, 2010
Coffe Talk: Remembering my Grandmother
Last week was another flare up of my carpal tunnel so I had to lay off the computer for a few days. I wrote alot of posts and paperwork a few days before the flare up so I should have seen it coming. Since my work is focused on using my hands and arms (sign language interpreting, making beads), it's really easy to do too much and not realize it.
While away from the computer, I received another goody package from the good folks at Rings n Things. (Here's my disclaimer.)
This one is very "Day of the Dead" - a holiday celebrated in Mexico and in the Southwest in November. Relatives hold celebrations in cemetaries to honor their ancestors. It seems this tradition is particular to Mexico yet I remember growing up with a similar, more quiet celebration around Memorial Day.
Memorial Day, my family would load up the car with bright red geraniums and trowels and make the rounds to the cemetaries where our great grandparents were buried. My mother's family in one local town and my father's family in another. We would hear stories of our families and run through the cemetary reading the headstones of others. We were always careful not to walk directly on a grave but on the grass paths made by the caretakers. My mother would pull weeds and old grass from around the headstone of her mother and plant fresh red geraniums near grandmother's name. My grandmother was 86 when she died and although I was about 4 or 5 at the time, I remember her wizen face and white/gray hair. She seemed very old and stern to my 4 year old self. I couldn't imagine her being anything but old.
A few years ago, while visiting my mother on the family farm, I asked if I could have something - an old portrait of her mother in it's original frame and glass. It was taken before Grandmother was married at age 14.
The woman I thought was wizen and stern is forever young in this portrait. I feel like I see something of her spirit. My mother tells me she was quite a gardener and every year she'd plant something she'd never planted before. Apparently, Grandmother planted spaghetti squash before anyone knew what it was! I'm reminded of the bright red geraniums my mother chose to plant every Memorial Day - such a vibrant color is befitting an adventuresome spirit like her mother. When I plant something I've never planted before in my garden or see the vibrancy of a red geranium, I'm reminded of the young woman my grandmother once was and the adventuresome spirit she had.
Is there a vibrant spirit in your family tree? Did your family have a similar "Day of Remembrance?"