Today my aunts had a special feast to mark six weeks since grandma’s passing. Consisting of many elaborate rituals mainly aimed at giving food and a list of very specific items to the poor, this six-week celebration is a huge production. I helped my old lizard organize some of the elements of this tradition six years ago after my mother passed away, and was somewhat mystified by some of the items we needed to give away – a small bucket, a hairbrush, a table, and then some… The table caused some conflict, I remember. We had to buy a table specifically for this purpose. On this occasion I learned that there are stores that specifically sell items of furniture meant to be given to the poor when someone dies. The lizard and I found the quality in these stores somewhat lacking and maybe, just maybe, I was a bit snippy to a shop owner who tried to swindle us then told me I had too many opinions for someone my age. I was 36 which is old enough to have lots of opinions, and I think I told her just that. My old lizard fussed at me all day for having such a big mouth, but she accepted my decision not to buy a table from that lady. I don’t even remember the table we got in the end nor where we got it. I don’t think I liked it, nor did I like the bucket, hairbrush, and other paraphernalia, but several grueling days of shopping for items to give away taught me there are times when even an outspoken grown woman is better served keeping her opinions to herself.
If putting together the feast for the dead in person was mystifying, being far away this time around and receiving pictures of the whole production via instant message was even more so. In honesty, I asked to see the breads with candles stuck in them, because they’re pretty, and I remember my grandma lighting the candles on a similar occasion. In addition to pictures of the breads, I was given a full report, and pictures of all the other items. My aunt and I had a nice chat. She was very tired after organizing everything but satisfied that she’d conducted all the rituals, met all the requirements. Even the old lizard seemed pleased – as pleased as she can be considering she has very high standards which nobody has ever been able to meet, including her own self.
Also, I went to my friend’s house and on her coffee table I saw a copy of The Adventures of Miss Vulpe, as well as the ashtray I brought her from the Ritz in Paris one year. I think these two items go really well together, and it all goes well with my story about the feast for the dead. If you read Miss Vulpe you’ll probably understand.