El Dia de Los Muertos

29 Oct

One of my very favorite things about Los Angeles is the Day of the Dead celebration at Olvera Street.  I love the altars, the processions, the Aztec dancers, the smells and festive atmosphere.  The calaveras are incredible!  These are no ordinary skeletons.  They dance, play the guitar, and get married in full tux and bridal finery. Some walk on stilts.

A gallery in Pasadena, The Folk Tree, has a beautiful altar celebrating the life of Dick Clark, an important icon for my generation.

It’s a whole different feeling about death and the progression of the spirit.  Got me to thinking about what’s dead in my life, or about ready to die–people-pleasing, unrewarding friendships, unrewarding work.

What’s dead in your life or about ready to die?


Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “El Dia de Los Muertos

  1. Bruce McGovern

    October 30, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Not sure how to answer that question. Just back from some hours at the funeral of an elderly neighbor, here in my little Mexican village. I think she was around 78 or so. Here the people stay and help fill in the grave, and put flowers on it. I take extra umbrellas because in the panteon the sun really beats down even when the temps are moderate like now. So far all my umbrellas have returned; today I had 5 loaned out.

    The deceased was the grandma of the young woman I call (not to her face) the Lovely Gabriela, who is an excellent 20 year old young woman from a really good but poor family. The whole family is a bit distraught, but Gabriela and her father show much more signs of distress than the others. Her father told me today was a really bad day for him, knowing when he took his mother to the cemetery, he would never see her again.

    Before they moved her from the home, Gabriela went up to the coffin. I followed her, and she stood there stroking her grandma’s head and face over and over for a long time. She had to have that last touch, is my guess.

    Actually, her young sister, Graciela, 15, broke down after the burial was complete and the family surrounded her and let her cry in “public private”, curled up on the ground behind a tombstone, with the family members crowded around as shields. She is one of my English students.

    Day of the Dead is coming up soon. In fact, we plan our annual trek to the States to be back in time for DOD. Here, there are no dances, no tourist events. It is essentially an annual community reunion in the cemetery. People renew acquaintances, in some cases after decades “in the North”, and share life experiences and discuss the deceased. They do eat, but not feast style, simply drink and eat as a need.

    At 5 am, people converge on the cemetery with literally tons of flowers, each competing to be the first to cover family tombs with flowers. My wife goes with family. I tell her to tiptoe out and I sleep on until the sun comes up.

    This small town cemetery feels like my cemetery, because in the few years I have been here, many of the people I know have been buried there. My poor Tia Rosa, among others.

    Yes, Friday I will return to the new grave and mingle with the same people I saw today, as well as other families whose funerals I have shared.

    Sorry I did not answer your question very well, but I did write what I am feeling right now.

  2. Ellen Bowers

    October 30, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Thanks, Bruce! I enjoy hearing from you, especially from the perspective of living in Mexico.

  3. Anonymous

    November 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Some of the things that are dying are: “mistrust, shame & doubt, and guilt” (all developed in the first 6 years according to Erickson’s psychosocial development theory)…I feel like the classic “caterpillar turning into a butterfly”.

    • Ellen Bowers

      November 2, 2012 at 3:06 am

      Mmmm . . .beautifully expressed. The aim of being a butterfly is lovely, and hopefully worthy of the effort and distress of the process of getting there.

  4. Jane

    February 22, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Hi Ellen ~ I have so enjoyed reviewing your Blog! This one caught “my eye”. For me at this time in my life I am letting go of my home of 33 years. The house I created with my ex and where my little girl who is now 34 grew up. I know in my heart it is the right thing to do… as emotionally attached as I have been to these walls and stained glass window in my kitchen and front door with the glass antique doorknob and koi pond with beautiful flower beds. But life is full of trade-offs I’ve decided and now is the time to “trade-in” for a smaller model apartment probably where I can live within my means. And hopefully have more of precious TIME to read some of your books and go ballroom dancing and whatever else catches my eye! I saw a man sitting in his folding lawn chair outside his apartment in the late afternoon sun reading a book … it looked so peaceful! I will enjoy that! Your old Reno friend, Jane B.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: