I started thinking about this blog on Halloween. I started writing it on November 1st, (Day of the Dead). Then I stopped. Then it was Remembrance Day. More death. Then the bombings in Beirut and Paris. Let's face it, November is never a barrel of laughs and this one in particular has been dark. Even the silly James Bond movie I saw on Friday opened with a Day of the Dead scene in Mexico City.
It's not as though I was looking for a way to be funny about November or write lightly about death, that's not my intention at all, but I was looking for an angle. A way in. A way to think about it, with a little space around it.
This is what I came up with: None of us are getting out of this alive.
Not really funny or meant to be, but this sentence helps me to not cling too tightly to the less important impermanent things of the world. Things like mortgages and mean, crazy people. It helps me to better focus on the living, breathing (also impermanent) beings that I do love. The people, dogs, critters, trees, oceans, rivers and forests that I share the world with.
When I started to write this blog, I immediately started writing about my maternal grandmother, Grandmere. Grandmere comes to my mind in November quite often. Not because she died in November or because she was all sweetness and light. She certainly was not, but because she loved ghost stories.
I wanted to include a picture in this post of the my copy of Bluenose Ghosts by Nova Scotia folklorist Helen Creighton, but I can't find the book. I will admit that when I couldn't find it, I had a fleeting thought that Grandmere had taken it. I thought this even though Grandmere has been dead for quite some time.
It's not a stretch for me to have a thought (although fleeting) about a ghost taking a book. Grandmere, loved telling ghost stories and I loved hearing them. It's probably why she gave me the book (which I will find).
Wiccans consider this time of year, specifically October 31st (Samhain) the holiest time of the year because they believe the veils between the two worlds are the thinnest at this time. When I first heard this 'thinning of the veils' and two worlds idea, I did not think this was strange at all since I had a grandmother who regularly spoke of spirits and ghosts and The Other Side.
In fact, the last thing Grandmere said to me on my visit to Nova Scotia before she died was, "See you on the Other Side." Grandmere had a wicked sense of humour but I knew she didn't mean the kitchen.
If she had meant the kitchen, she would have meant The Big Kitchen in the Sky, which I just made up. The Big Kitchen in the Sky could be an imagined heaven for Catholic raised French Canadian women like Grandmere. who go on to make endless batches of divine chocolate fudge for their also deceased friends and family while telling riveting ghost stories about the lives they left behind.
This is not such a stretch for me to imagine either. I inherited Grandmere's imagination, her fudge making and storytelling abilities. Not a bad legacy and a good enough reason to spend a November afternoon in my own kitchen, stirring fudge over the stove and telling stories to whoever will listen.