Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Friday, November 4, 2016

Amor Eterna...Eternal Love

Waverley Chapel, Fairhaven Memorial Park

RIP, Mari Lou Laso Elders

Relampago del Cielo (Lighting in the Sky)

Entrance of Waverley Chapel
 If you look to the right of the photo of the dancers, you can see the back of my head, as I sit in the front row of Fairhaven Memorial Park's Waverley Chapel. I once again was seated with Maria Laso, mother of Mari Lou, my son's late wife. Mari Lou died last September 28, and this was the first time I'd been in the Chapel since her funeral service last October. This was the second year that Maria and I attended the Dia de los Muertos Remembrance & Celebration. Last year Fairhaven began its ceremony outdoors but it had been interrupted by a sudden windstorm and downpour. This year we were favored by sunny skies and a tranquil twilight.

 Maria brought Mari Lou's framed graduation photo and also one of Mari Lou with her father, Manny, who died a couple of years earlier, to place on one of the altars in front of the chapel. She also brought a proof copy of Mari Lou's young adult novel, Otherwise Known as Possum, which will be published by Scholastic Press on February 28. When we left the service one of the presiding priests told us that he had blessed all the photos that celebrants had brought. (I took photos of the altars, but for some reason all my photos of the evening failed to upload to my computer. I thank the Fairhaven Facebook page for the ones I have posted here.)

When I lived in Guatemala in the early '90s I learned that All Saint's Day, Dia de Todos los Santos, is when families go to the cemeteries to honor loved ones with flowers and other mementos. In Mexico and here in California, All Soul's Day, October 2, is  Dia de los Muertos. To the indigenous people of both Guatemala and Mexico, death is considered the passage to a new life. So this festivity celebrates both death and the cycle of life. From skulls to marigolds to personal items, families bring what was meaningful to their beloved to decorate graves and make the remembrance for those of us who still live easier to bear. Maria and I poured Diet Cherry Coke on Mari Lou's grave. It had been the last thing she'd asked for to drink when she had been in the hospital.

Maria and I appreciated the traditional dishes provided by El Indio Tortilleria: chicken, pork, corn and strawberry tamales, pan dulce and hot chocolate. Maria also brought along some cookies in the shape of bones and skulls.

To cap the evening, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. When Maria, pregnant with Mari Lou, and Manny fled Cuba in 1962, they were relocated to Downers Grove, Illinois, about 20 miles from Chicago's Loop. Manny grew to love the Cubs. Mari Lou, close to her father, became a fan, as well. At the end of the service at Fairhaven, Maria confided that she believed Manny must have been exercising some heavenly pressure to help the Cubs come so far in the finals. We smiled at the thought of father and daughter clapping their hands for the Cubs from their heavenly seats. After the service I met a friend to watch the final two innings, and thought of the pair once again.

I had been unfamiliar with the songs played during the service, but the Hispanic attendees sang along to every one of them, including "100 Ovejas," and "Pescador de Hombres." I was reminded of how much my Spanish has faded since I left the Dominican Republic in late 1994. In those days I knew full well that "ovejas" meant sheep, and not bees ("abejas") as Maria explained to me when I initially mistranslated. The words still sound alike to my untrained and incapable of fine distinctions ear...and it reminded me that when I was a child I couldn't distinguish between "chair" and "share." I think I understood about 70% of what the priests were saying, but that figure might be bolstered because some of the service was in English.
Mariachi Los Potrillos play "Amor Eterno."

I did recognize the final tune, though, "Amor Eterna," because I've heard the late Juan Gabriel sing  it. Eternal love...and how do the living hold on to that, when they grieve? A friend posted the saying about grief on Facebook yesterday, so I'm sharing this thought. I do believe that the final line is correct...grief is love with no place to go. El Dia de los Muertos ceremonies give us a place to go. Thank you, Fairhaven. 
Altar offerings at Waverley

 One of the most touching parts of the service for me was the parade of costumed children who came forward one by one to place their offerings upon the alter: apples, marigolds, candles, corn, nuts, skeletons, and photos of departed loved ones.
Here is Juan Gabriel singing "Amor Eterna," in case you've not heard it before:
(And RIP, Juan Gabriel, who died this past August.)  
Juan Gabriel, El Divo de Juarez

1 comment:

  1. Terri, This was a very interesting post. Thank you for sharing. "Grief is love with no place to go." How very true.