calling upon our ancestors

These days some of us celebrate All Saints/Souls Day (Christian holy days), Day of the Dead (Mexican holiday honoring the dead), and Samhain (Celtic holiday marking harvest’s end, when the veil between worlds is rumored to be thin).

Heaven by Ozan Ozan

As a result, it’s an appropriate time to remember our ancestors, those beloved family and friends (and maybe some not so beloved) who have departed from our earthly lives.  Lots of conflicting residual emotions remain as we discovered writing together this week.

Several incarcerated writers recalled lost children, one of whom died in her mother’s arms moments after birth.  Several ‘inside’ women remembered grandparents who had loved them deeply, died too soon, and watch over them now as guardian angels.

Others yearned for relationships with family members they wished they’d known.  We shared a rich evening of calling upon our ancestors:


Hello, I was named after you.  You were my father’s favorite aunt.  I’ve been told I have your spirit and strength.  You were eccentric and maybe a bit strange in your ways, a very unique person.  I thank you for paving the way!  The way you dressed in your jingley bracelets and your vibrant makeup…  You traveled the world and brought back memories to share with anyone who cared to listen.  You, with your long, dark hair and baggie, excessive layered clothes and odd, beautiful scarves, a trait I chose to take up without ever having known you.  Your quips and knowledge, I still hear about.  The way you were shunned and misunderstood by some, but loved and accepted by most.  Thank you for being you and for making it OK to be me.  -LS    


Although I never knew you, your blood runs in my veins.  Not just your blood, but perhaps your intellect or humor…  How much like you am I?  Do I look like you?  How about quirks?  Do I share any of those with you?  I must because as I examine those I grew up with, I realize I am nothing like them.  I feel like Dr. Seuss’ bird that goes around asking, “Are you my mother?  Are you my family?”

They say blood is thicker than water, but is it really?  Relatively speaking my blood line seems to run pretty thin.  First, to be able to cast aside one of your own, then to be unwelcoming for your own to come home?!  Really?!!!  So all in all, despite my having your blood coursing through me, I feel like making it my own, just mine to share with my children and grandchildren, leaving yours to die out, at least through me.  Oh my, I’ve just set myself free!  -NL

. . . and you?

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