It’s the Eve of Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere, though astronomically the day is still a week off. I feel inspired to name some ancestors today:
- My mother, Edith, a creative and talented woman thwarted by her own fear, who died during a play after performing her character’s death scene.
- My grandmother, Edna, Edith’s mother, the person I called “Mom”, the true maternal force in my life.
- My father, Robert, who drove a truck for a living, cheated on my mother habitually, and spent much of his time in a fantasy world of his own making and yet was a good father to me.
- My great-aunt Margaret, my maternal grandfather’s sister, who was lamed for life at birth, wore a heavy metal brace on one leg, married and divorced, lived alone, worked on her feet all day, and never was described as “handicapped” or “disabled”.
- Roger, my father-in-law, an educator, administrator, consummate organizer, who died of pancreatic cancer four years ago.
- Miss El, the elderly neighbor lady who babysat me occasionally and was the first person to talk with me seriously about religion, when I was just a little kid.
- Midge, the organist at my church when I was in my late teens, who taught me to read neumes and sing plainchant properly.
And some others, not precisely ancestors but worthy of memory:
- Harvey, the partner of a dear friend of mine, the only person I know who died of AIDS; he was probably around the age I am now.
- George, one of the finest tenors I have ever known, who wore a Fourth Doctor scarf and turned me on to Babylon 5, who died of kidney disease before he turned thirty.
- Mark, a co-worker, a Romanian defector who spoke seven languages and could make puns in most of them, who taught English writing to native speakers, who also had kidney disease but ultimately died of pancreatic cancer.
I will remember you.