How do we remember those who have gone before us?
When I was just a little girl of about four years old, after Grandma had said my prayers with me and tucked me in to bed on the couch with the plastic bags over the cushions “just in case”, I tiptoed back into her room. I wanted a glass of water, or some such thing to prolong the going-to-bed process. There she was, kneeling down by her bed and praying. In front of her, she had a prayer book, a rosary, and many of the prayer cards one receives at funerals. By four years old, I had learned to say the “Our Father” and “Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts…” the prayer we said before dinner most nights at our house. I didn’t understand how she could, or why she would pray so long and for so many people. I was much too young to have a theological conversation about praying for souls in purgatory, or whatever it was that she was praying about, but I never forgot the image of her there, on her knees, with all those prayer cards laid out on the bed.
Sometimes, after Mass on Sundays or holidays, Grandma and my parents and I and some of my aunts and uncles and cousins would go to St. John’s Cemetery and put flowers or a wreath or a “blanket” on family members’ graves. I didn’t know any of those people. My first experience with losing a loved one would be losing Grandma the October when I was four years old. But I learned by watching the actions of Grandma and Mom and Dad and my aunts and uncles, that remembering someone who has died, is an important thing to do.
I think it must have been in January of 1982, nine months before her own death, Grandma said to me, “Angel, today is your Grandpa’s and my wedding anniversary. He went to Heaven a long time ago (it must have been about 15 years) but we would have been married 45(?) years if he was still alive.”
I remember thinking that 15 years was so many years ago and I wondered why, after all those years, it would still matter. I didn’t say so. I knew that if it was important to Grandma, it must be important. Now, almost 32 years after her death and on the 13 year anniversary of 9/11/01, I realize how very insignificant time is when it comes to dulling the pain of a great loss.
In the Catholic Church, believers pray for “Eternal Rest.” In the Orthodox Church, when someone dies, the faithful chant, “Memory Eternal.” To me, these are very special and important prayers for us, and about those who have gone before us. We should remember them in our words and our actions so that the lessons they taught us and the love they gave us will never die.
I am lucky enough to have inherited Grandma Tylutki’s very worn prayer book and many of those remembrance cards. They are an important reminder of how love goes on, long after someone has died. It is my hope that my children will learn to memorialize loved ones by my actions as I learned from my elders.
Today’s post was going to be a recipe…but as I sat down to write, I decided another zucchini recipe could wait and this could not.
Love to all of you from Down to Earth Angel