My Grandmother for weeks now, has been recounting the day my Grandpa died on our Sunday visits. It started when I asked her if I could buy her a new bed. She told me she has not slept in a bed in nineteen years, because my Grandfather died in it.
I know that not sleeping in a bed because someone died in it has nothing to do with the other- but, in the world I grew up in, this is a reasonable explanation to spend nineteen years sleeping on an ancient, orange, crushed velvet sofa.
My Grandpa, whom we call Pae in our family, made me feel like the Queen of everything, since I took my first premature breath in this world. I was glorified for just being myself in his house.
He would hand me bags of Cape Cod chips, and cut me pieces of Sara Lee pound cake, and tell me I was pretty, while my Grandmother would say that he was just making me fatter. (she was right btw) He would rock in his rocking chair while I sat beside him watching The Price is Right, and he called everything a Filho da puta.
I went home once and asked my mom to toast some bread for me in our filo da puta, which was really a toaster oven…….
A few years ago, (which is probably five years by now, making it more than a few) I did a past life regression session at the Mindz Eye, in Warwick, Rhode Island with Patti. (In case you are looking for a referral)
I had been reading Brian Weiss, and the entire concept of past lives resonated with my journey of becoming.
At the beginning of the regression, she took me into this hallway space, and she said someone would help me get into the door I needed to see. I was overtly resistant, and took about five hundred steps down into the meditation just to get in the zone.
In this hallway space, I saw my Uncle who died when I was eight. He was sitting at a round wooden kitchen table exactly like the one that currently, and has always, sat in my grandparents’ home.
He was just sitting there drinking a cup of coffee, reading the paper. He looked up and smiled at me, and then I could smell shepherd’s pie, and hear pots clanging, and I just lost my mind in sobs.
There he was. My Pae. I could feel him. Not just imagine him, not just see him in my third eye I could feel him. I hadn’t felt him like that in a very long time. I was fascinated by the idea that I could feel all the same love that I had felt as a kid in the arms of my short tempered with everyone else, but me, Grandpa.
Of course, in the session I was asked to leave this table overflowing with all the food I remember eating, with the Patriarchs of my family, and this resurrected feeling of connection.
That took awhile for me.
The thing about the regression session was that it left this part of me open to them. So now wherever I am I can just think about either of them and there they are.
I sit every Sunday at that brown table in real life, and I hear newspaper pop open, and I see my Grandpa, wife beater on, smiling, as my Grandmother tells me that he just lived a life to work, and what kind of life is that really? Or how her own Mother would say he would never come back for her and seven kids when he left for America first to get a job. She recounts her life, and I listen surrounded by the sounds of kids running upstairs, and it still smells like food, because my Uncle Tony is usually home cooking something. An entirely new generation of kids creating their own memories.
I still decorate My Grandpa’s grave every season. I pull up, DMX on full blast, with fake flowers, and other rando lawn decorating objects. Discarding his old stuff to the poor dead folks around him who never seem to have a visit. The first place I went after the Boston Red Sox finally won a world series was to his grave. I put a Sox flag by his gravestone, because he loved himself some Red Sox baseball.
I would do the same for my Uncle but I have no clue where he is buried, and on days I have time I roam around the section I think he might be in, looking around tombstones like a grade a weirdo. I can never find him.
Honestly I think my Uncle likes it that way.. I feel him clad in leather, a waft of cigarettes mixed with cologne, and jackassery fills up my nose, and I know I am only finding his grave with the directions of someone who was not eight when he died.
As grateful as I am to see my Pae pop up behind my Dad, waving his oldest living son off like he always did when my Dad is telling one of his tall tales- Grateful to feel him near me at all.
I still cry when I think of how little I got to be with him. All of my other grandparents are still alive, and though I am grateful, it seems unfair somehow- that I got married without him, graduated high school without him, had all these babies without him. I still cry for all the human things I do not get to have with this man, who made sure I knew I was special just because I was born.
The human experience is tricky that way. I long for all I did not get with my Pae, but I am humbled with gratitude that he is part of my dead people posse- guiding me, and loving me on this ride through humanity.
I long to honor this legacy of family that I learned, and continue to learn from walking into the house that raised this brood of immigrants who came to America for a better life. I long to learn the history, make sense of all the plot twists, and to keep the stories alive.
Deathiversaries can be a shit day, but I am sure they are not supposed to be. I am sure they are about opening your heart to how it felt to love, about appreciating breath, eating food, and remembering.