Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mes de los Muertos

The editor of the Piker Press is such a fan of Dia de los Muertos (November 1, Day of the Dead, popularly celebrated in Mexico), that she has declared all of November to be Mes de los Muertos - Month of the Dead. It's a time to remember and celebrate those souls who have passed from the earthly realm.

Boy, did I get my share of muerte this month.

On Nov. 1, we learned that my aunt had advanced cancer. She died a couple of weeks later.

While we were making arrangements to take time off work to go to her funeral, we learned that Terry's father was failing. He died last Friday.

Theirs is a long and complicated story. Suffice it to say, I only met "Doc" after Terry and I were married, but I liked him and wished I had known him better.

Tonight, my sister-in-law had a visitation at her house. Terry was apprehensive about going - more family issues - but before we even got to the door, I heard someone inside say, "Terry and Cheryl are here!" They welcomed us and made us feel at home.

His sister had a table with some of their father's papers and a scrapbook. He was born in Luxembourg in 1919 of German/French heritage. There were several French documents, but unfortunately, my meager French from 30 years ago was not enough to allow me to translate them. One appeared to be a ration book, and another was some sort of registration document. The scrapbook had advertisements and articles from newspapers of small-town Iowa, where he arrived in the 1940s to practice optometry.

According to the articles in the scrapbook, he was briefly in the French Foreign Legion. (Terry didn't believe that story, so he had never mentioned it.) He was a Toastmaster. (I was once a member of Toastmasters.) He sang in a barbershop chorus. (I love barbershop harmony.) How I wish I had known these things sooner.

She also had his Masonic uniform on display. Before we left, she offered us one of the medallions from it. At first, Terry said no. But one of the traditions of Dia de los Muertos is to display items which remind you of the departed one, so I quickly said, "Yes, we would like to have that."

Alfred A. Haimann, 1919 - 2005

As I thought about los muertos this month, I realized that in the last 3.5 years, Terry and I have lost all four parents and three aunts and uncles. I have just one aunt and one great-aunt separating me from being the oldest living generation, and Terry is already there. (My brother said to me today, "Now I am old folks.") So today, which incidentally is my mother's birthday, I'd like to remember the others who have left us in the past few years.

Roy Coffey
Carl Tanner
Lillie Tanner Coffey
Alice Walker Haimann
Betty Walker Phillips
Brunetta Coffey Stewart

They will always walk with us.

No comments: