Sun Lakes Writers’ Group

All Souls’ Day

Ellie Clark

All Souls’ Day was a day I remembered from the time I was a little girl. It was the day that we prayed for the souls of the departed. As a little girl I really didn’t grasp the full meaning of the day. As a matter of fact, I didn’t grasp the meaning as an adult. It was when I moved to New Mexico that it finally sunk in.

As I walked around many of the gift shops in Old Mesilla (a quaint little community in Las Cruces, N.C.) I noticed there were many souvenirs depicting the dead. Lots of skeletons, dancing, hugging, looking about. There were figurines, magnets for the fridge of a skeleton fact, brightly painted all. There were skeletons in little cars, passengers and drivers. How fascinating I found these items, yet they still didn’t mean anything to me except they were weird.

Living in Las Cruces I spent lots of time in Old Town Mesilla, looking for gifts, or for a nice dinner out. The main part of the community is a large grassy square, with trees, benches, etc., surrounded by streets with shops and restaurants on three sides and a lovely old Catholic Church at one end. The church, a focal point, of course.

It was the first part of November and I went to Old Mesilla to shop for a few items. I was surprised to see the square surrounded by small groups of people with card tables containing various items. People were visiting with those who had tables so I went to one of them and it was then I found out the meaning of Dia De Los Muertos. It is All Souls’ Day, a day to reflect on those who have passed on. Each table had memorabilia of their loved ones, as well as pictures. I was more moved as I walked along the area viewing pictures, memorabilia and folks talking about their so dear departed ones. There was a table remembering a young soldier who dies in WWII. I looked at that young, sweet fact and of course, remembering my own fallen brothers, a tear fell down my cheek. It was not so much a sad memory as it was fond.

Yes, on that day I realized how wonderful it was to have a special day where one could reflect on those loved ones who continued to remain in our thoughts and our hearts.

I love All Souls Day, also known as, Dia De Los Muertos.


Barbara Schwartz

There are a couple of reasons that I can’t wait for this upcoming November.

The first is, of course, that the weather will FINALLY have cooled down into the 90s or possibly even the 90s. What a relief this will be. No more “excessive heat warnings” from the weather folks on tv! No more staying in the airconditioned house all day, waiting for the sun to set so it won’t be so oppressive. Finally the ability to wear long pants and, yes, the elusive sweater that may have been sitting in the back of the closet. Halleluya! The fall season is indeed the best of the year in Arizona!

Another reason, related to the weather, is that we can finally start to cook again. Without the 100 degree weather, Chili, soups, stews will, once again, fill the kitchen with their very distinct aromas that will only get our taste buds ready. The barbeques will once again be relighted – cooking outside might be tempting during the hot, hot summers, but who can stand outside long enough to bbq anything?

Without getting religious, November is the start (or is it already the middle?) of the holiday season. Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or nothing at all except for the secular holiday of New Year’s, people are busier than ever getting prepared.

But, without a doubt, this November will FINALLY bring this election to an end. No matter who you vote for, or what party you prefer, it will be a blessing to have all this campaigning over. It has been going on the better part of two years – with the candidates (PLURAL) announcing their candidacy last year in the summer. Without getting overly political, I cannot wait to stop hearing all the name calling from both sides. I will vote and hope that the next four years go by as rapidly as possible.

AH, NOVEMBER, get here as soon as you can…

North, South, East, West – Which is Best?

Yvonne White

I have lived in the North, Southwest, West, Midwest, but never had the opportunity to live in the East. I have visited the East Coast and enjoyed all the old history that took place in that area.

Michigan is considered Midwest, although Minnesotans consider them Easterners. They are descendants of Germany, Poland and France. They have dark hair, and a darker olive skin. Their speech is faster and more clipped. Growing up in Michigan, living in Colorado and then in Minnesota it seemed the further west one went the slower the speech. Michigan has faster driving and many are employed at Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

I attended a college in Colorado and they laughed at my speech – it was so clipped. I struggled with a Voice and Diction class, because I didn’t speak like people from Colorado. A guy in my class asked, “Do you live in Wisconsin or Minnesota.” In Colorado. Along with the slower speech are the cold winters interspersed with warm days and Chinook winds.

I have lived 43 years in the North-Minnesota. Some of Alaska is warmer than Minnesota. The people in Minnesota are generally slight built, light skinned and mostly are decedents of the Scandinavian countries. They love the Arts and there are multiple industries. They love cross country skiing and ice skating and tend to be more athletic. This is good since they have eight or nine months of winter.

Now I live in the Southwest! The pace used to be much slower in the 1970s, when my parents were Snowbirds we tried not to use it when the nest was there. It seemed like the robin needed that nest for the longest time! Finally, when the four babies hatched, we watched them eat and finally it was time for them to leave the nest. Each bird would stand on the edge of the nest and then hesitantly get up enough nerve to fly out. It reminded me of the first time each of my son’s dove off the starting block for a high school swim meet.

In Arizona, nest building is a frustration. The morning doves LOVE to build nests in our rain gutters, in front of our home. They would busily bring twigs over, my husband would get a ladder and scoop out the twigs, and then on to making another nest in the same place. Wouldn’t you think the bird would try another place?

It wouldn’t be Spring if we didn’t see birds building nests. In Michigan and Minnesota it was a time to think that warm weather is coming. In Arizona we think, “Oh, no, here comes the hot weather.” Birds are fun to watch wherever we live.

Visiting Grandkids

Diane Keneally

Whew! They just left. Two little bundles of energy. Keeping us on our toes, busy, asking a million questions: Can we use your iPad? What kind of games do you have on it? Can you set up Mindcraft so that we can play each other as friends? Just what is Mindcraft anyway?

Wanting to do everything, and NOW!

How can we give them unconditional love and at the same time teach them to respect each other and indulge their every desire? We, lacking in energy and stamina, trying to keep up with them, showing them our world, slow as it must be.

What do they see? Two “old” people, slow as molasses, but indulgent. I wonder who needs the most patience, them for our asking them to “wait a minute, honey, I’ll get it in a minute.” To us; why do they need everything this second?

I can remember my grandparents. At 45 they were old people. They dressed old to us, men always in a suit, tie and fedora, women with their tied up shoes, gloves and hats. They acted old too. No running around with us, no pool fun, no golf cart rides. Their lives were so very different from ours. My husband’s grandmother came from Italy at the age of seven. My grandfather also came from Italy, at the age of eight. They didn’t even speak the language. Hard working lives, providing for their families in the best they knew how. So many things new and frightening. An urban, city culture, living in these huge buildings one on top of another. The streets, crowded and noisy with people milling about and talking differently from what they knew.

Did we tire them out too? There always seemed to be people around them. Aunts and Uncles, cousins. They really had a full life which kept them alert and purposeful, even though their lives were shorter than today’s. I remember those family dinners. On the Italian side having to visit Grandma and Grandpa in the city for Sunday dinners, every week, without fail. Long, and boring to us, but now that I think of it, essential to the family. To stay connected and involved and caring.

Since moving to Phoenix, I’ve promised my little bundles of energy that I, too, will hold family dinners, maybe not once a week, but definitely once a month.

We just had one this past Sunday, with a sleepover too. Between shopping for the dinner ingredients, meatballs and spaghetti, naturally; cleaning the house and getting the spare bedroom ready for them, cooking the meal, serving and cleaning up, taking the youngest one to the pool, showers and bedtime rituals. I was and am tired out! What will they remember, I wonder? Fun, family together, hopefully, good food, and passing along traditions and values, both moral and spiritual.

Sorry, I have to run, they’re coming again tomorrow for another sleepover!