Sunday, November 1, 2009

Remembering Mom

Many believe that the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest on November 1, and we still remember it today on All Hallow's Eve, or Halloween as it has come to be known.  Kids dress in ghost costumes or as skeletons, sure reminders of its association with the dead.  Christians celebrate All Saint's Day at which time they honor the dead (well, only those who went to heaven), and Mexicans celebrate El Día de los Muertos, or All Souls' Day.  Neo Pagans often celebrate Samhain (pronounced Sow' en) by holding a Dumb Supper, or Silent Supper, with places set at the table for the departed; no one speaks while eating, in the hope that their departed loved ones will join in the meal.

It is hard to be separated from those we love, but it is good to remember them, whether that memory brings laughter or tears.  Last night we celebrated Halloween in our own way.  About a dozen of us gathered to share a meal and to share stories about those departed souls who had an influence on us.  Some of us dressed up like an ancestor.  Mike is a native American and shared many stories about his ancestors, most of them unsettling.  Peggy told us about several women in her life, strong and independent women who were well educated in an age when it was very unusual.  Her great-great grandmother was the first woman to attend the University of Kansas.  Melanie said she doesn't need this day of the thin veil to talk to her loved ones; she keeps one wall of her house filled with pictures of them, and she converses with one or another of them daily.  And so, as we went around the circle, people shared their stories.  It was a good evening.

I dressed up as my mother.  Mom died a little over two years ago.  We were very close, and the evening before she died, we had a great conversation on the phone, laughing and chattering for about a half hour.  Just a few hours later, the nursing home called and told me that they had called an ambulance.  I was nearly four hours away, and by the time I got there, she was gone.  I dressed up like her in the hope that her voice would reach me.  Alas, it was not to be.  But in a way, she did speak to me, sending me an "aha!" moment.

I dressed in a blouse of Mom's that my sister handed me when we were cleaning out her closets.  And I have her beautiful diamond wedding ring.  So I put on both of those.  Then I added black shoes with a Velcro closure, the kind she wore because arthritis made it hard to tie her shoes, black pants with elastic waist like she wore so she didn't have to deal with buttons, and overly large glasses like hers that helped a bit with her failing vision.  I finished with a spray of gray on my hair.  What I found interesting was that the black shoes and pants are from my own closet.  The glasses were mine, too, and while admittedly quite old, look very much like the last pair my mom wore.  And if I would quit buying hair color, my hair would be quite gray.  I don't need to dress up LIKE my mother; I AM my mother!  It is sobering and amusing at the same time.

So I guess my mom talked to me after all - not in words, but through the dawning realization that this acorn surely didn't fall far from the tree.

If your mother is still with you, pick up the phone and tell her hello while you still have her.  I wish I could.

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