Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dia de Bloglandia Post #5

The art of remembering...

Every Sunday, throughout the month of October, a group of us join together in the art of remembering-all leading up to the Dia de Los Muertos in November-aka All Souls Day. Our hosts, Rebecca and Stephanie lead us graciously on this journey. Won't you join us? Joining can be as simple as visiting all the links posted on their blogs of those who participate. Share with us the beauty of remembering.

As Rebecca had written (I've taken an excerpt from her poem):

"treasure all those
who have graced our lives with their own courage and verve.
to reaffirm the promise to live life fully,
straight from our hearts, boldly, with great unending passion,
one full day at a time."


In Albuquerque, there is a traditional Dia de los Muertos parade held annually in the south valley called the Marigold Parade. It's a great parade to go and see and certainly an occasion for a colorful and fun photo-op. This is one of my most favorite images I took last year.


The significance of marigolds and Day of the Dead celebrations: "In modern Mexico, the marigolds are referred to as the Flor de Muerto ("Flower of the Dead"). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings." (adapted  from Wikipedia)

There is also an annual community exhibit of Dia de los Muertos artwork at the South Broadway Cultural Center-which is a beautiful art gallery run by the city of Albuquerque. Some participants build some rather elaborate altars for this exhibit and it is definitely worth seeing if you live in the area.

As for my altar at is done! Although I do not have marigolds to attract my loved ones, I think my offrendas (offerings) should 'entice' them! I even found a jar of pickled pigs feet for my mom. Ugh!! I had trouble picking up the jar off of the shelf as I thought it looked so gross! Believe it or not, I found it at my local grocery store: Albertson's!

Mom's Book

When 1997 had arrived we realized by February with Mark's dad being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and my mother's health rapidly going downhill, that we were both going to loose our parents before the year was up. I wanted my mother to have some sort of closure with her children since they were not in a position to travel where she was. So, I hounded my five siblings to send me something that I could compile in a book to present to mom before time ran out. We are a family of procrastinators, so it did take some 'gentle' bullying on my part to get them all to send me something. I took what they wrote and transposed it all into a handmade book and did my best to be calligraphic about it. It was hard putting that book together as my mom and I were in San Diego at that time because she was getting assessed by specialists to see if her blood clots were operable. I put the book together in between trips to the hospital where mom was. I cried a lot. Even though I had my 5 year old son with me, I felt so all alone as Mark was going through his journey with his dad going into transition. My husband and I had to stay in two different places while all this was going on. Mark, taking care of his dad and mom, me, taking care of my mother (and son). As it was, mom was discharged from the hospital as they realized that her blood clots were peripheral and in her lungs and inoperable. Scotty (Mark's dad) died the day after mom and I got the news about herself. Although it did not seem like much of a consolation, I was at least able to present her with the book. I was hoping that it would give her the strength for whatever it was that she needed at that time.

That was one of the most difficult journeys we have had to make. But, we both felt so fortunate to have such loving parents that we could give back to in some way for all that they had done for us.

The book went back to Florida with mom. When she passed away exactly two months later, my brother and sister went over to take care of the affairs. The book was nowhere to be seen. It had disappeared. I was heartbroken that my last physical connection with mom was gone.

When I went to see my older, sister (my mother's daughter before my dad's time) in Florida in August 2010, she handed me the book. I don't' know if she realized that it was THE book, but because it was a handmade book and had my writing in it, she thought it might be mine. It was like coming home again.

And, it has a place of honor on my Day of the Dead family altar.


rebecca said...

dear paula,

thank you for your memories so personal and so openly shared. my heart floods with love for my parents as you share your love for yours. memories ignite the force of love that lives on in each of us.
i love that you have your mother's book, a symbol of connection that goes far beyond the physical and anchors us to forever.

Stephanie said...

What you and Mark went through...I am so very happy that for whatever reason your moms book resurfaced and that have these wonderful memories.

One day I am going to spend dia de los muertos in Albuquerque and experience the Marigold Parade myself!

Thank you for being part of dia de bloglandia.

Cheryl said...

This is a heart-wrenching story with a beautiful, solemn ending. I am happy you made the book, filled with love and memories. I know your mother took it with her in spirit.

lyle baxter said...

A sad time for both of you. "it aint easy "for one but it must have been very hard for two! I'm so glad your book reappeared!

Meri said...

What a beautiful gift of love you gave your mother. I'm so happy it came home to you after her death. It makes a perfect offering for your altar.

Gloria said...

I agree with everyone. How wonderful that you have your mother's book was found. My son lived in Albuquerque and I guess he never went to the parades because he never mentioned them. Thanks for sharing your beautiful post.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Thank you so much for trusting us all enough to post your beautiful, but oh so painful stories of Mark's dad and your mom. I'm so glad you were able to be on the journey with her and that ultimately your family's beautiful token of affirmation and love was returned to you, its' creator. I feel so honored to carry your stories.

La Llorona Studio said...

Your book is beautiful and made with such love. Your mom had a chance to read things in there that were not able to be said in person. I like to think that your book warmed her heart and prepared her for what was to come. I'm glad it made it's way back home to you. A treasure indeed.

Dawn Elliott said...

Yours is such a beautiful post honoring not only your mom and step-father, but parents everywhere. I think that many readers can relate to the loss of a parent...and your story of the handmade book from all the children is lovely.

BLOGitse said...

My mom is still alive but you gave me something to think about...thank you.


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