And the story begins this way:
When I was a girl I visited a place called Dixon Mounds. It was an Indian burial site. Enclosed in a metal like shed with just a bridge that spanned the divide, the skeletal remains of hundreds of Indians lay where they took their last breath. It was this singular moment, along with my dads love of history , that began my interest in what was before me, before you, before us.
Now, those people are covered. Legal battles ensued and the argument was that the people should be left at rest and not displayed. It was disrespectful. I can see both sides. Were it my Grandpa, I would be upset that his last resting place was unearthed and displayed like some trophy. On the other hand I am filled with thankfulness that I saw this, as it ignited a flame inside of me to ask questions about the past in order to pursue a future. As they say, those who learn nothing from the past are doomed to repeat it.
In modern culture and American culture specifically, we are very separated from death. Death is not a part of life but a separation from it. A person dies, they are taken away to some cold place that looks much like a basement and the next thing we know, we are looking at them laying out in a box. They look plastic. The reality has been stripped from us and packaged. In olden days, days of yore, or whatever you wish to call them, we had rituals. No embalming, no three days wait. You dealt with it then and there. You prepared the person for their final journey, wherever that may be. You faced death. You gave over your loved back to the earth.
I think, speaking for me, the separation from death sparks the curiosity about it. I do not deny I love the morbid. I love the skeletons, I love the “dark”, I love the ancient practices. As I said earlier, death is packaged and sold to us in a neat box. We are taught that death is hands off . So when we have chance to peek into that most curious room, we are eager to do so, no matter how disgusting or frightful it may be. This is no justification, this is personal admission.
This is why I take a que from the latin culture ( I love the latin culture), celebrate the person, Celebrate their life. Take joy in who they were and what you learned from them. Talk about them often with your loved ones. Do not let their lives become a whisper.
My Grandma Seibert said that she felt after my Grandpa died that people were afraid to speak with her about him. She said it was as if his life became a whisper. Don’t let people become a whisper. Celebrate.
I have often quoted Frida Khalo, and I will paraphrase here, “When I die, I hope they burn this Judas of a body.” I do not want to be packaged and sold. Burn me,let me become the dust from which I came. And yes that sounds romantic and oh so dramatic ( and yes I may have drank too much red wine). But celebrate me and the life I lived. Laugh about the things that were ridiculous about me, reflect on good times and struggles overcome. Do not display me, but let there be beer and wine and especially whisky.
Yes, Yes!! Let there be whiskey!