Today is All Souls’ Day for Christians, which gave rise to the colourful neo-Aztec Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos). I’m not Catholic anymore but I still miss (some of) the dead, just like everyone else. Here is my sombre, not-Aztec-at-all memorial for some of the beings I miss.
My father Jacques. He had flaws, but I’ve never seen another father do better; he did his goddamn best and he made a huge difference.
Both my grandfathers, Albert and Louis. Albert was kind, loving and loved; it was a delight to see him and grandma Gilberte (who is still around) in love like teenagers until the end. Louis was mischievous, pig-headed, capable, bossy, occasionally heroic, and loved us unreservedly.
The grandmother I never knew, Jeanette. She died before I was born, but she left a lot of memories for my dad, which he passed on. She loved music and in today’s world, she would have been able to both pursue a concert career and be treated for breast cancer.
The mother-in-law I never knew either, Sybil. She left notes in many books, and stories among those who knew her. I feel certain I would have loved her.
My step-father-in-law for too short a time, Art. He was a taciturn man with a quiet sense of humour, a gentleness and dignity about him, that made you feel the sparkle hidden behind that unassuming face.
The lady who was another grandmother to me, Eva. She was a delight of humour, kindness, goodness, dignity, respect, and just all-around class. She was my fairy godmother.
My uncle Clément. Here was a sure sign he was a good man: children loved him on sight. He was jolly, capable, dependable, funny, wily, sensible, and loyal. He had the precious gift of being able to admit when he been wrong and make changes.
My uncle Robert. He too was always a natural favourite with children. He was kind, helpful, cheerful, funny, and honest. There wasn’t a teaspoon of meanness in him.
My colleague Rob. Smart as a whip, funny and realistic, hard-working and creative, interested in everything and everyone, you couldn’t get anything past him.
My cousin André. He was wickedly funny, a blond menace, generating ideas for pranks and experiments faster than the rest of us could execute them. How he loved a good scary movie! I saw Alien in the cinema with him to make him happy (when he was underage!), but I was terrified. He was a year younger than me and died when he was fourteen.
My cats Eurekatous, Benjamin, Mrs. Pedicaris, Claude, Madame Moustache, Attila (“Meeper”), and Zouzou. You live long enough, you’re going to have to say good-bye to a lot of pets, since they live such short lives, but it never gets easier. Each cat I have lived with has had a very distinct personality, but it seems to be a lot easier to find a good cat than a good human. I still look for them reflexively, after all these years.
My dogs Milady and Pitou, pup and sire. I only had dogs as a kid because in those days I had the time and space to take care of them. They were wonderful friends, and I’m only sorry they got to see the kid they played with daily move away to go to college, leaving them behind.