Family Altar

21 October 2009

Sadness in the Caruthers family today.  Another loved one has departed this life for what she truly believed would be a better one.  She told her family and attending nurses a week ago, she was ready to “go home” and “meet my maker.”  Today, she got her wish.  So, sadness, yes—but also celebration.  Celebration of a life well-lived.

Kyle’s paternal grandmother, Evelyn P. Caruthers, aged 96 (I think) “went home” this morning between eight and nine o’clock.  Cousin Cyndy texted us shortly thereafter, and the call came from Dad around ten. 

Evelyn was a strong, rather stubborn woman.  Well-educated, and multi-talented, she was the life of the party at the retirement home where she lived for the last decade or so.  In 1995, she graciously and marvelously hosted our rehearsal dinner the night before Kyle and I got married.  She (and both of our other living grandmothers) willingly donned a sixteenth century costume I made for her for the event itself the next day, and even had her portrait made wearing it some months later.  She was always up for an adventure.  Perhaps my favourite story about her, is that as a school teacher in the 1930s, she was not permitted to be married.  So, when she fell in love,  she and her man married quietly and lived secretly so she could keep her job!  I never knew that man, but I’m glad she did, ’cause they had four wonderful sons, and one of those is the man I now call “Dad”—the father of my own wonderful husband.

In one corner of our living room is a beautiful English oak buffet c. 1920.  On its surface are a number of symbolic items—things that serve to remind us of the seasons, the gifts of nature, the wheel of the year.  I lovingly call it our altar.  Right now, our focus is on the upcoming holy day known as Samhain (pronounced “sow-ain”)—or in more American terms—Halloween.  As the ancient celtic peoples celebrated this sacred quarter day, it was believed to be the day when the veil of separation between this world and the next is the the most transparent—hence the connection of ghosts and hauntings to the modern Halloween.  How appropriate, I suppose that I’d be adding to the altar this week then, Evelyn’s photograph.

That photo, so long on the “family” shelf in the guest room (or the Mouse Suite, as Larry and Denise call it), is now in its new spot.  And it’s in great company.  My photo for the day shows the four framed photos there.  The good-looking young man in the largest photo is my daddy who died in 1983.  Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him, still.  The smaller photo in front, of a man standing, is of Roger, my first husband, on our last trip together in Paris.  Although we were divorced and I was very happily married to Kyle when Roger was killed in 2000, we had remained very close friends and it was one of the hardest losses I’ve ever faced.  My own dear Gammy, my mama’s mother, died in January of 2007  just days after her 95th birthday.  Her adorable photo is on the left.   And the beautiful lady on the right is Evelyn.  You will be missed, Gramma Evelyn.  But never forgotten.