Sunday, January 08, 2006

rememory

On Saturday I went home to attend the funeral of a woman who died at the age of 89. She was roughly my age when she and her husband became one of the founding families that established the community I grew up in. There were photos on display near her casket. In one photo, she and her husband were pictured with the other founding family in their old age along with both families’ various children who continued the community in the area with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The photos viewed by gathered progeny and the living representatives of ancestry, silently demonstrated the connection of this individual to an existence behind and before her, yet intimately connected to her.

Her funeral was a celebration of continued community rather than an obligatory blood family gathered to bury their dead. I ate lunch across the table from two Amish men who were discussing the value and quality of grain in Pennsylvania Dutch. I discovered the young Amish man was from the parent community this woman grew up in. He was her brother’s son’s son. I spoke to the two women next to me in Pennsylvania Dutch. One of the women had been up for the deceased’s husband’s funeral as well. She told me she had met my family during that visit and we spoke of our mutual grief: her young daughter had died in a car accident only two months after my sister had died in a car accident at 22. She had showed us photos of her daughter. Later, I sent her a note and the poem I had written and read at my sister’s funeral. I had forgotten but her memory of the comfort received, demonstrated her appreciation for our participation in shared suffering.

I spoke Pennsylvania Dutch to the Amish. I spoke Spanish to the Columbian family and the Guatemalan family, who were new to the community. I was invited to stay with the relatives of the Columbian family in Columbia, if I should ever travel there. I felt a rejuvenation of spirit that none can express as I was connected to those who knew my Doddy’s name. I spoke the language of my past and of my future. I was more than a first name remembered for only a moment.

4 comments:

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jasonstauffacher said...

A,

It is very good to read your life in Minnesota, and what it is meaning to you now. As you grow, and for that matter, as I grow it seems to me that life gets easier and harder. It was fond of you to recall the different languages that you speak to others.

I think you might be interested in a blog found in Iraq. Many woman in Iraq are free now and are writing their days life. Here's the link: http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

I find some similar links to your life in the oppressive Anti-baptist world-views and the oppression of the Middle East. Woman were not valued, they were only good for "womanly duties" and not valued for their mind and contributions.

you might consider taking these blog enteries and make it eventually a published book about your life as a, can I say, former Mennonite? I do like your writers' voice and the questions you probe! Excellent sister!

Kindly,

Jason Stauffacher
(tif's old friend)
and my blog is attached as I am teaching in Korea now for a spell...

espíritu paz said...

J,
I think you leave me without words when you refer to my oppressive history as similar to the oppression of women in the middle east. Thanks for the referral to the other site though. I’m finding it interesting. I attempted to demonstrate throughout my blog with not so many blunt words how oppressive I find western culture to be to my own ideals and goals. I also believe oppression is a matter of perspective. I could rejoice in the “liberation” of women in Iraq. But perhaps I should rejoice that a few brave souls were willing to give their lives in sacrifice for you and I, who are steeped in the oppressive forces of materialism. They in their infinite understanding of what is good for us and mankind, thought to crash planes into towers so as to help liberate us from the oppressive forces of materialism. Think about it—what are the “womanly duties” here in the west? Women are now “allowed” to use their mind, however, generally her duty is to be attractive and sexy. The commodification of all things (including women and children) is a distinctly capitalistic effect brought to its unattractive end. Sorry to be so blunt. I know you didn’t mean to but I just can’t help but feel a pang of insult, when reading your response. For the record, I have not converted from my anti-Baptist ways, rather, I became more intimately attached to them when I answered God’s call to live incarnationally to the rich and the powerful. I know it feels wonderful to think that “you and yours’ agenda has saved me from oppression” It has!—from the oppression of my own pride. Now, so too!, me and my people are offering you and yours’ salvation from oppression of your agendas!

Peter,
Actually, this is all I remember funerals to be, except for as you mentioned—those who died at a young age. There were a few of those in my community.