Remembering the dead

Sunday is All Souls’ Day or Día de los Muertos: the day when the dead are remembered. As usual here in Sweden, they do everything the evening before. So, people will be visiting churchyards and lighting candles in remembrance of those who are no longer here today.

Just imagine: the dusk falling gently over the gravestones; hundreds of candles flickering and lighting up the churchyard like a glowing necklace of remembrance. The hushed murmuring of voices, the fragrance of flowers, laughter as departed ones are remembered with affection.

It has been ages since I’ve thought of dear ones no longer here, so it’s probably time…

Aunt Radish: a friend of my parents who lived in Vancouver, Canada. Why was she called Aunt Radish? I wish I had asked her while she was still alive. When my parents lived in Fiji, we stopped over in Vancouver and she would take care of us three girls in our jet lagged state and buy us frozen yoghurt. This was the very first time I had ever tasted it! So, thank you.

Grandma M and Aunt Pat: My father’s mother and sister lived together all their lives (until my grandmother passed away and Pat lived in their house by herself). We spent a lot of happy times with these two. Because my parents lived abroad and we were at boarding school, they took us in during the holidays and half terms.

As they grew older, they never lost their childish spirit. I used to lie on the top bunk bed while Pat lay on the bottom one and read scary stories to me all night long. Once, during a mammoth reading session of horror stories, during which we had managed to scare ourselves silly, we heard horrible scraping noises coming from the living room. It was past midnight. And dark.

My aunt pushed me ahead of her and, cowering, we went in to investigate. Hearts beating fast, hands clammy – it was just then that my grandmother leapt out from behind the door and shouted, “Boo!”

I’m sure that our screams must have woken up the whole neighbourhood!

SuperNanna: Sir Pe’s beloved grandmother. I only got to know her towards the end of her life, but her adventurous spirit still burned strong. Just because she was nearly 90 didn’t stop her from visiting us in Sweden, taking a cruise down the Rhine or travelling to Australia.

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They may be gone – but they are not forgotten.

9 thoughts on “Remembering the dead

  1. Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge ancient customs in your blog! Often we lose sight of who we are for who we think we should be. Good work on this one! Blessings, ZJ

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  2. A lovely post- here in Canada, not much fuss is made about all souls day (certainly not like in Poland, where my family hails from-and where I was born). I think it is more individualized here, according to a person’s heritage or customs. Thank you for the lovely reminiscences about your family-I enjoyed those!

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  3. Hi ladyfi. I have not encountered this celebration of the dead. It reminds me of the African tradition of celebrating the ancestors. I think it is beautiful. We will never forget special people who touched our lives.

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  4. Lady Fi, I have never heard of All Souls’ Day. However it may be very close to our Memorial Day..which used to be called Decoration Day. It is always the last Monday in May..Long ago it was a custom to honor our fallen Veterans with flowers and flags. Now it is a time to remember anyone who has died. Thank you for sharing some of your memories of your favorite people. Very poignant post:)

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  5. Happy memories of Grandma and Pat, and I remember aunt Radish well but not the frozen yoghourt, but her love for cats! The clearest memory of Pat is her laugh, a good old-fashioned head back, laugh!

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  6. Yes, I remember the frozen yoghurt being the first time we tried it with Aunt Radish – and then having awful stomach cramps for the next 20 hours of flying time!!
    I think dad remembers why she was called Aunt Radish.

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