For me — as a member of the oldest surviving generation in my family — I am the matriarch now. I have been since I was thirty-five and my father died. Both my grandfathers died before I was born. My father’s mother had already slipped away into the dementia that runs through his family’s DNA. She died on my first birthday. My mother’s mother never learned English. I never learned Italian — my mother was our translator until my grandmother died when I was eight.
I was named after this woman — a woman with whom I never even really had a spontaneous conversation.
My sense of history is abrupt. My ancestorial tree is full of Humans who were never real to me.
Who were all those who came before me?
The Day of The Dead each year asks to acknowledge them — learn about them — reach out to them.
TO REMEMBER THEM.
Even when we aren’t quite sure who they were. By the simple act of remembering our roots, we honor their existence. We can keep the precious gifts they gave us front and center in our lives.
I am told I have my grandfather’s chin. My temper comes from the potent combination of Scottish and Italian branches woven into my own special brand of hybrid. My love of story-telling and good Scotch whiskey come from my father’s clan. My faith and nurturing from the Italian heart that beats inside my chest. I have green eyes and ash blonde hair — a mutational blending of both family trees — incomplete dominance.
I am All. The. Things. of everyone who came before me.
When we pause to remember that — it’s easier to let go of ego. Nothing of who we are, what we are made of — did we earn. We are the conglomeration of the gifts of generations of Humanity. If we look back far enough — we can see the places where every single one of our families intersected.
On All Soul’s Day — may all the souls whose love gave life to me and mine find peace. May they know — I hold them in my heart with immense gratitude. May we allow them to teach us that there is only one family.
We are exactly the same. Exactly.
“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” — Linda Hogan