Today I created the centerpiece for my altar for the Day of the Dead celebration … an image of the ancestors to be honored.
The first question, of course,
is “which ancestors?”
Not long ago, on a shamanic retreat, I asked about the definition of “ancestors." While the common answer runs along the line of those from whom we are genetically descended, the shaman’s answer offered a more complicated path.
Loosely, the term could refer to all the beings who have lived on Earth before us, but, we tend to honor the people who have gifted us with love or wisdom or courage. Often those are close family members, but sometimes our deepest connections are to people we meet along the journey of life, people who change us, polish us, bring us gifts never imagined.
I have chosen six people and two dogs to honor this year, each of them unrelated to me biologically but each of whom gifted me in ways that led me to this moment in time.
Richard Wycoff, the man who became my second husband, gifted me with unconditional love and support, laughter and adventure, as well as the opportunity to be a mother, even if only part-time, and a grandmother. For twenty-six years, he was my home base.
Rumple was Richard’s idea but he brought both of us joy and laughter for 14 years.
Lerrea Mohney, theoretically my step-aunt, in reality, my second mother, was my champion and best friend. We had a fifty-year running conversation about life and love and all the mysteries involved with both. She thought I could do anything and made me think I could, too.
Missy … some might call her a dog, but she knew better. She was a gift I didn’t know I wanted, however, for ten years, she was my constant companion and the delight of my days.
Maggi Butterfield-Brown was a magnetic energy field of love that pulled everyone into her center. She was color, dance, and laughter, as bright as poppies on a spring day. She gave me the gift of acceptance and seeing a life lived as abundance, love and generosity.
Jerry McNellis was god smiling on my life. He brought me confidence, laughter, more ideas than either of us could shake a stick at and showed me the courage and grace that life could be.
Annie Robinson tossed me a tidbit that changed my life and then proceeded to nurture that new sprig. Still teaching creativity at age 90, she sprinkled fairy dust and love on hundreds of us.
Polly Hubbard gave me the gift of art. She was one of my other mothers and you can read more about her here.
Thinking about these ancestors makes me feel inordinately lucky to have had them in my life. As Dr. Seuss said:
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