Honoring the Ancestors

Today the wheel turns to a time of honoring our ancestors.  I honor ancestors of my heart, hearth and kin; as well as the heroes and ancient wise.  I am grateful to those that have gone before me, carving the roads for those who came after them.

My youth was filled with a large family …  cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. and none of them seemed to have less than 5 kids.  This meant that I was introduced to death at an early age and with some frequency.  Death never scared me.  I easily grasped that life was limited.  I also saw that life should be filled with loved ones and activity.  We were always together, doing things, hanging out, just being.  The house was always over stuffed with people; kids playing/fighting, the men doing projects (which involved a lot of bsing, beer and BBQ), and the women making sure the kids didn’t kill themselves and poking fun at the brothers/husbands as they “worked” on their projects.  When one of them passed over we all gathered for massive amounts of food, alcohol and stories (both good and bad).  Usually so many people in attendance we couldn’t easily fit in whatever place the funeral was being held and the memorial service was overflowing of whomever’s house.

Then there was the other side of my family, it was quiet, sedate, reserved.  There were never friends around, daily routines that were never varied from.  It seemed sad and lonely to me.  This was the life I feared because their deaths were so sad to me.  I could usually count on my fingers how many people were in attendance and there were no tears, but a stoic approach to the pain.  There was no laughter, no memories shared, no joy at who they were, or equally shaking heads with stories of their faults or outright dumb things they did.  I was left feeling these lives were left untouched by those around them and wondering who they touched.

Then my grandmother became very ill and ended up in a nursing home.  All of a sudden she became chatty, so I took advantage of this and learned so much about that side of the family.  We came from a strong military line, every generation the men served and defended this country.  I knew the other side of the family had, but not this side.  She took to calling me the spanish inquisition, and it was the first time I learned of her loving, teasing nature.  I spent many hours in her hospital room and then nursing home, talking and reading to her.  We shared a love of murder mysteries, I adored Agatha Christie and grandma introduced me to Ellory Queen.

As the wheel turns, I reflect on the lessons of life and death I have seen, the experiences I have had.  I know the environment I want for myself and I work each day to create that.  I hope when it is my time to cross the veil that I leave behind a life worth celebrating, a life that touched people and hopefully made things a little better for having lived this existence.

I think of the warriors in my family, the military people, the firemen, the policemen but also the silent warriors.  The women who endured horrible conditions coming from Europe, kept families together despite the treatment that was allotted, and approved, of the times.  The children they carried that survived, the ones who didn’t survive childbirth, and the ones who were only with us for a short time.  I think of the healers of my family, the farmers, the chefs, the nurturers.  I think of the abusers of my family, yes it is an odd thing but it is part of our ancestry and must be recognized.

Everything … the good, the bad and the indifferent, weaved together for generations to leave my blood line where it is today.  Myself, my brothers, my sisters and my cousins are who we are due to our heritage and our personal experiences.  I hope we all take a moment to recognize this and embrace the opportunities that we have before us as the wheel turns.

Hail the Ancestors!