Saturday, November 01, 2014

walking with the dead

After what seemed like a very short week, Darrel and Christy are in the air on their way back to Bend.  With promises that they will soon be back.

As short as their stay was, I realized on the drive back from the airport that I have spent more days in my new house with them than I have living there alone. 

And that is the way it should be.  This house calls out for the presence of company.

I had hoped to show Darrel and Christy one of central and southern Mexico's signature holidays -- the Day of the Dead celebrations.  But I knew we were in the wrong location for that.

The Mesoamerican presence in this area of Mexico was very light.  And, because we are a relatively young tourist town with very few long-standing traditions, Melaque is simply not a hotbed for Day of the Dead.

There are very few local families who spend the night with their deceased members in the cemetery.  I had hoped to be able to show off a few decorated grave sites.  But, as you can see for yourself, this is not
Arocutin -- or even Pátzcuaro (dead reckoning).

The comparison raised an interesting possibility.  They may possibly return next year for a Day of the Dead trip in the highlands.

The local residents who do celebrate Day of the Dead do so in the privacy of their homes.  With very stylized altars including the elements of fire, wind, water, and earth.

Five years ago, when Professor Jiggs died in Villa Obregon, the woman who was to become my landlady, Christine, performed one of the most memorable acts of kindness I have experienced.  She gave me directions on how to create a Day of the Dead altar for Jiggs.

I didn't do it that year.  And I have not in any subsequent year.  Until this one.  Now that I live in a home that is mine, I feel free to remember Jiggs and the joy he added to my life during his thirteen plus years.

The painting was done by a friend from church, Cor, who has now moved back to California.  But it catches Jiggs's roguish character.

The water bottle will never help Jiggs get anywhere.  He hated that bottle.  Thinking it was something that a poodle or terrier would use.  He was happy to drink out of mud puddles -- not to mention wallow in them.

On the other hand, the leash and collar were his cherished treasures.  Not that he liked to be leashed up.  Quite the contrary. 

But he was an adult dog who majored in delayed gratification.  He knew the collar and leash meant we were about to head out on a walk, and that he would soon be free of the leash to run with abandon in the park.

And all of those stuffed toys?  They were his constant companions.  Sandy, our neighbor in Salem, would buy stuffed toys by the pound at Goodwill.  She would then share her haul with Jiggs.  He absolutely adored her.

I have talked often of getting a new dog.  Now, that Jiggs has his altar, it may be time for both of us to move on to new relationships.  Of course, we will never forget the relationships that have made us who we are.

For that, I thank you, Jiggs.  And Christy.  And Darrel.

We all have some new memories to store up.


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