Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Feast of All (those crazy) Souls


It is all Souls Day as I write this and I am feeling pensive and a bit solemn.  I look at my children and I see how fast time is going by. I look at my parents and feel the same way.  I look at myself and although I have physically changed, I feel like I have always felt.  The passage of time plays tricks on you.  The passage of people does the same. 
My grandfather, who passed last year, is still as present in my life has he was when he was alive.  I see him in my youngest son.  I have a vivid memory of my grandfather holding my youngest son when he was about 9 months old.  He said “You make sure he knows who his Poppie-Pop was, I want him to know me.”  I really think that my Pop, has made himself known not only to my son, but through my son.   My son will say something, make an expression or show a mannerism that IS my grandfather.  I know many will think this is nuts.  So be it.  
I also have had an ongoing relationship with my great-grandmother who passed in 2001.  She was 96.  We were close when she was alive and I feel her presence at times still. But not as much as I did years ago and when I was pregnant with my first born.  When I was pregnant I would actually smell her face powder, or her apartment and I was instantly comforted. I now have dreams where I talk to her and give her hugs and know that is really her.   A little crazy, maybe, but I don’t have a problem with it.
I do a lot of research on our family tree.  I get on ancestry.com and am lost for hours in my detective hunt of who is who, where they lived and what they did.  These were all my people who have gone before me and paved the way for the life I lead now.  I have discovered ship manifests of countless relatives that came here in search of..... who knows?  I would like to think it was a better life.  One relative came with her baby girl a year after her husband had established a residence and a job; coming here to start a life. They partially raised 4 children until she died in childbirth with the 5th, who also passed.  Was her life better or worse here?  Who is to know, but I am sure many in her village thought she was crazy for leaving. 
Another relative lied to her family telling them she was coming here to bring her brother back.  She had no intention of doing so.  Instead she came here following the love for her soon to be husband.  She left her family and the country she knew for a possibility.  This same woman was also a healer in her South Philadelphia neighborhood known for  “laying of hands.”  She wanted to pass this on to her daughter (my grandmother) but my grandmother thought she was nuts.  I sometimes think I might have been a good healer.  
They all came here almost penniless, they worked, raised their families, persevered and passed it all on to the next generation.  Some did this better than others.  I still feel some of them around me and mine.  It gives me hope and incentive to live up to their ideals and expectations.  So tonight I will toast my ancestors, and pray for their guidance.  You may think I am nuts.  It must run in the family.