Celebrate the good and the bad

As you read this, Halloween is either winding down, or done. Have you set your clocks back? You’re probably reading this on All Saint’s Day, or El Dia de los Muertos, in which case you may have mass celebrating the saints, or a party celebrating all your familial dead who have passed on before you. In  when death is rare and feared, the latter may seem as oddly quaint and relevant for sugar skulls and hot cross buns than for the altar with the pictures of relatives… but when death is always present and it’s common to have buried friends and relations, the answer that has allowed us to historically go on, survive and thrive, is to remember the good, celebrate that people lived, and keep them alive by telling their stories.

This year has proved that cowering in our houses and trying to avoid Death’s bony finger is… deadly. Suicides are through the roof amoung all ages, and isolation is killing the elderly. Not only does it show in the statistics, but friends who work at an independent living center confirm that people who thrive on seeing their family have rapidly declined into dementia just from lack of contact and interaction with the people they care about.

We were built to go out, to do, to strive, and to accomplish. Hiding is a little death by degrees. And hiding our dead? To forget that they existed is to lose them forever. To remember them is to celebrate that they lived, and to make them immortal as anyone can be on this vale of tears. So whether it’s around the bonfire or around the dinner table, take the time to weave the stories of the past into the present, so that they carry on into the future.

And on that vein, here’s an interview with two vets who put out memoirs via trad pub, so you can get an interesting look at a completely different type of author and side of publishing than we normally talk about here!



20 thoughts on “Celebrate the good and the bad

  1. One thing that struck me when I was reviewing a history of the English Reformation [E. Duffy _The Stripping of the Altars_] was the emotional shock that hit small parishes when the mass was changed to remove the listing of the recent dead and the prayers for those who had gone before. When combined with the confiscation of all the embroideries and other valuable textile materials (Edward’s Reformation), people lost that long connection to neighbors and family. I suspect the women took it hard, because they’d made those hangings and paraments, they and their mothers and grandmothers, far, far back into collective memory.

  2. If there are no dead, how can there be a Resurrection?
    “And if there is no Resurrection, then we are above all people to be pitied.”
    (The Apostle Paul, I Cor 15:19, paraphrased)

  3. > Have you set your clocks back?

    All except my wrist watch, which is on the order of twenty years old. It no longer responds to presses from the buttons. It might gunge buildup that could be blasted out with some tuner spray, but it’s severely battered and it’s time for retirement. So last night I ordered a new watch, a Casio F-91W. Famously known as the official watch of al Queda and the Taliban. $9.99 on eBay; the Taliban aren’t big spenders. It should accessorize nicely with my Taliban head-tablecloth.

    Honestly, I wear the shemagh rarely; the size is standardized by tradition, and the Middle Eastern types who set the standard would probably be spurned by Comorro headhunters. There’s supposed to be enough cloth for a loose double knot, and I can just barely get a single granny knot there, which makes it a real hassle. So I’ve switched to a bandana. A pocket watch would be more appropriate with that, but they’ll pry my wrist watch off my cold dead arm…

  4. Also never mentioned on Lame Stream Media — 700,000 cancer patients are not getting their treatments. Some are afraid to leave the house, some are stuck because so many doctors and nurses are laid off, some can’t get appointments scheduled because the hospitals are being kept empty to make room for that overwhelming flood of COVID19 patients they’ve been waiting for since March.

    Many, many other people with chronic but not immediately fatal conditions are not getting the ‘elective’ treatments they need. Politicians and bureaucrats do not understand, ‘elective’ does not mean ‘optional’, it just means the patient is not going to die TODAY.

    How many people have died, how many are going to die, because those ‘elective’ but necessary treatments have been canceled or delayed? Will they be reported as ‘COVID19 deaths’?
    Most days, I suspect that we could get a better government by picking 535 people at random. On bad days, I’m certain we’d get a better government by picking 535 people at random from lunatic asylums.

    1. Sister in law, and an uncle in law, both diagnosed with cancer– at the appointments that were canceled by the kung flu, and rescheduled some six months later when “non-essential” treatment was again an option.

      1. I heard of people whose surgery for aortic aneurysm was deemed “optional” because it was essential.

        1. I don’t know what exact type of heart surgery it was, but our family friend in Washington had his “it took three weeks to get it set up, you have maybe 50% chance of making it to the surgery” heart surgery canceled.

          Thank God, county hospital and very, uh, persuasive wife (I’m not sure if she used a phone when she called them up to rip them a new one, or just yelled as she should) so the un-canceled it very quickly.

          He got blood poisoning, and was relieved when he found out it wasn’t COVID.

          This was back in either March or early April, while my parents were visiting.

    2. Well, functionally, right now, what is the difference between mainstream society and the insane asylums?

      On the one hand, deinstitutionalization, and criminal justice reform mean more mentally ill, and stupid, violent mentally mixed in with the general population. On the other hand, if someone is forty or younger, they grew up exposed to sex ed that was probably based in Kinsey. Which was a prison study, hence wildly oversamples disordered thinkers who make short sighted, self destructive choices Since sexual drives are a significant influence, the people who accepted the sex ed at face value may have accidentally learned some quality that lowered their level of mental health. And I haven’t even talked drug use, and whatever is going on with spree killing, if it isn’t merely substances with psychiatric effects.

      If you look in a mental hospital, you may find people whose treatment is effective, and leaves them relatively functional.

      I’m obviously cheating some; People whose problems are effectively handled when they are not under stress do not automatically become able to handle stress, or any sort of demanding position.

  5. By the way, does anyone know how to reset the cat? She doesn’t appear to have gotten the “your food will be an hour late” message.

    1. You have to get a new one, and have it set to “food in the evening.”

      Doesn’t help much when you don’t want to change models, though.

  6. On our dorky rural road there’s never Halloween, so didn’t miss much there. Turning back the clock, I noticed that when I looked at the stove and it was different than my phone.

    But since you mention I’m reminded of being a little kid and getting taken to church some years when Nov. 1st was a Sunday like it is this year, and some people arriving for service as we were leaving. My parents thought that was quite funny at the time. Things you remember from when you were little. ~:D

  7. November 1 was my grandmother’s birthday. During the service this morning, the pastor asked us to take a moment to remember all of the people who had shaped us in our faith. She naturally came to mind, and I remember how much I miss her.

    We also had my daughter baptized this morning. It wasn’t intentional; we’d originally planned to do it at the end of March but there was this pandemic, then last Saturday but some of the relations couldn’t come, so this was just the first time we got a chance. However, there does seem to be something poetic about having her baptism on my grandmother’s birthday; it makes it feel as though she’s watching and the circle of life continues.

  8. My daughter went to a small private Catholic school on the south side of San Antonio – and so we have been practically immersed in Hispanic culture from that time on. It always seemed to us that it was a lovely gesture to recollect the Dead at this time of year – to set out pictures of them, and to put out items that they liked, even food (which to me verged on the pagan, but never mind, it’s MEMORY and bringing those honored dead to mind.)

    “For all the saints who from their labors rest,
    who thee by faith before the world confessed,
    thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
    thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
    thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
    fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
    and win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    O blest communion, fellowship divine,
    we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
    yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
    steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
    and hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    The golden evening brightens in the west;
    soon, soon to faithful warrior cometh rest;
    sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
    the saints triumphant rise in bright array;
    the King of glory passes on his way.
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
    through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
    singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    1. For the last few years, the organist at the church where I sing has slipped in “Come, Come Ye Saints.” When asked, we pointed out that it was a traditional American hymn tune, and were told “Very good. Carry on.”

  9. Putting out food or drink isn’t any different than putting out the reproductive organs of plants. It’s all about honor and affection, and it’s also about sensory enjoyment that doesn’t currently exist for the deceased soul and body. It’s a sort of place-saver, when you think about it. “I know that you will personally enjoy this stuff on the Day of Resurrection, and I hope to be there with you to give it to you. So until we can share it together in the body, let’s share it together in the Communion of Saints.”

    That said, St. Augustine thought his mom St. Monica took the graveyard hangout suppers a little too far, although actually most of the local pagans thought Christians were weird for hanging out in graveyards. Libations were fine, and funeral memorial banquets in banquet halls with the lamiae statues were fine, but eating and drinking with the dead in the graveyard? Weird.

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