Friday, October 29, 2010

Dia de los Muertos Altar for my Parents

Many trips to the desert southwest have helped me embrace the quiet culture and deep spirituality that is reflected in the celebration of Dia de las Muertos. A respect and celebration for the lives of loved ones past. It is felt, that on this day, the spirit of the deceased comes back to visit. Graves are decorated with flowers and food and there's a solemn joy that fills those that believe. This being the Catholic equivalent of the Feast of All Souls.

My Father died this past April. It was at sunrise on Easter morning that he left this earth. My father and I had a kindred love of Easter. When my Mom was dying he and I took part in a special yearly event at our church. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization replicating Christs' Apostles. Each member of this council agreed to one hour that they would pray in church during the 24 hours leading up to Easter morning. I asked if I could go with him. I was 15 at the time and I asked him to pick an hour it would be most difficult to stay awake, to make the practice more resemble what the Apostles did. We picked a very late hour and walked over to our church which was in our neighborhood. The cool quiet woke us and the silent meditation infused us both with what we knew lay ahead. It was later that year that my Mother lost her battle with breast cancer.

That Easter,for that one hour, was ours.
Ours in quiet contemplation.
For my Dad to die on this same day, 35 years later seems part of a long cast puzzle slowly unfolded.

I recreated this Day of the Dead altar from one I made a few years ago for my Mother. This year, after a long earthy divide, they are reunited. Surrounding the altar are love letters my Father wrote to my Mom while he was in the Marine Corp. Each on Marine Corp stationary, embossed with the Marine logo and ink pen he wrote daily. The written word kept them together.

No phone or faxes. No facebook, text messages or e-mail. I trimmed the edges to resemble the papel picado flags that are used in these types of celebrations.
On the altar I placed a photo of them on their wedding day, with a wood cut cherub floating above them. This is a Valentine for them.
Memories of my Father and his life at the Sheriffs Department mark the years he and my Mom were 'apart'.

On the day my Father's life was celebrated at his small Georgia church, a pair of large birds hung in air currents and glided past the floor to ceiling church windows. In the months that have passed, I have been comforted by the vision of birds overhead.
His soul is at rest and he is with my Mother and the angels overhead.

Rest in Peace Mom & Dad


Bonnie Blandford said...

Beautiful tribute...

Britt said...

I love the concept of the 'Day of the Dead' and the altar is really beautiful.