I’m cuddled up on my leather sofa, which sounds fancy but truly isn’t – we got it for a song on eBay when it became clear our old one wouldn’t turn the narrow corridor into the sitting room. It has been quite blue and cheerful through the window – but the drear of an ordinary Autumn day is colouring the skies grey now. Even the local children sound a little less exuberant this afternoon.
As the week heads towards Halloween, I am visited by old friends and family who are now gone. I don’t mean I’m up and down to the doorbell as my dead relatives all drop in for a chat on their way through to the annual Spookfest. That would be odd. Really cool but odd.
I mean that for whatever reason, I have had cause to think about or
mention dead loved ones this week.
A new painting of wild lupins by my talented mammie reminded me of an old, cherished pal who died sudenly some years back – his nickname for me was Lupin. She always wanted me to marry him, he was tall, funny, talented and smart – every mother’s dream. He was also completely in love with a wonderful woman & I was his best ‘man’ and not in any tragic-romantic ‘it shoulda been me’ way – we were the very best of friends.
I had a little cry for the loss of my lovely pal and it struck me – that I could create a little Day of the Dead shrine for him and my other loved ones so that they are with me in a more tangible way. They know how to party those Mexicans – although the practice isn’t peculiar to them – it’s the Mexican iconography of the skulls and paraphernalia of the Muertas that is most evocative.
I remember going to see a huge Dia De Las Muertas exhibition in London years ago – I was struck by the riot of colour, the humour & fun of the shrines. I loved how the collections of trinkets & images crowded together created a sense of vibrancy and life. It was meant to – that’s the thing – the celebrations are designed to include the dead – to delight them and cherish them in the centre of family life.
We have an altogether much less show & telly approach and so perhaps feel a bit shocked at the very idea of jamming everyone into the same shroud and taking them out and dancing their bones about. Mixing the ancestors together – sending up clouds of remains into the atmosphere. Picnicking on the tombs for heaven sake!
I think it’s a brilliant idea – this Halloween, I am going to begin a permanent ‘rincón de los muertos’ in my living room so I can involve my friends, nanna Cor & my pa with my life. I’m pretty sure they are having a blinking ball on the other side – but I’m also confident that they would approve of a bright little corner that celebrates their loveliness.
Spending quality time with your loved ones past and present is crucial to a happy, sorted life – say you agree!