All Saints Day

November 2, 2008

The kids and I spent the past two afternoons visiting cemeteries with my Aunt Carol. In recognition of All Saints Day, we brought flowers to family gravesites in St. Martinville, New Iberia, and Loreauville. Aunt Carol shared family stories; I started to finally get a better idea of the family connections; and the kids enjoyed the adventure of exploring the cemeteries. As a child I have very vivid memories of exploring cemeteries. Looking at the names, the dates, the different markers. Meandering between the raised tombs. It never felt like a scary place to me and perhaps that is because of my Cajun Catholic heritage. Death and life, family and tradition, culture and history mixed together into the way things are done. Families gathering at grave sites each year to paint, clean, and leave fresh flowers. It's not only a sign of respect but also a way for families to stay connected to the past and the present. And this year death has been a very real part of our lives. I spent some time at my dad's grave site last week. I was the only one there. A small country cemetery surrounded by woods and empty rice fields. Despite heavy tears, I felt strangely comforted being there. I am so glad we have a special place for my dad. Rituals and sacred spots are important. The kids and I discovered a book this summer that illustrates this point. "A Pig for Amarillo" follows the story of a Guatemalan boy and the loss of his beloved pig. A moving and beautifully illustrated tale that ends with a special kite flying ritual on All Saint's Day. A good book about loss, ritual, and remembering. I also enjoyed Karen's account of All Saint's Day in Italy.
Kellie said...

I love that this day has such meaning for you. It inspires me to make it more than just the day after Halloween. Thanks for sharing.

South of Rome said...

Some how I missed this post until today! LA cemeteries are some of the most interesting in the world. I used to love watching funerals in NOLA. Such a strange mix of celebration and heart break.

holly said...

I love the idea of this holiday, how it connects it with death/life/celebration. I think it was a Barbara Kingsolver book, Animal Dreams, where I was especially moved by the context of that All Saints Day. (maybe add that book to your "slump list") : )

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