There are lots of things we do with family, friends and acquaintances that become traditions. But do you do things you used to do with people who’ve passed away, as a way to remember them?
Here are three of mine:
The New York Times Crossword and Spelling Bee – When I stayed with my beloved, late brother Brian in Nashville during his cancer treatment, we would sit opposite each other for hours, both wearing earbuds and staring at our screens. After a couple of weeks we realized we both did the New York Times puzzles, when he asked me if there was an auto-check function (there is). Ever since, when I do the puzzles I’m doing them with Brian.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Maple Syrup – My Uncle Fred was great at creating delicious new food combinations. (Uncle Fred is also the saint who used to pile us all into his station wagon and bring us to the drive-in movie theater in Dedham.) One of Uncle Fred’s most famous inventions was to dunk a grilled cheese sandwich into maple syrup. Try it! When I introduced my niece to this culinary delight we texted a photo of her giving it big thumbs-up to Uncle Fred’s daughter, cousin Sheila. He’s been gone for a long time, but every time I see and/or eat a grilled cheese I think of Uncle Fred.
Pink Rouge – My grandmother kept what little makeup she used on her dresser. She always had a small pot of pale pink rouge, and I asked her every day we stayed with her if I could put some on. Of course she said no. So, one of my first makeup purchases was pale pink blush (a pot of rouge is hard to find – let me know if you’ve found one). The color looks terrible on me, and since the pandemic I’ve forgotten how to put on makeup, but when I see it in the makeup basket, I’m with my grandmother at her dresser.
There’s a Seinfeld episode when Jerry gets George in trouble with his late fiance’s parents (she died after licking toxic glue on the envelopes of the cheap wedding invitations George insisted on) by paraphrasing a quote from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – “He’s really not dead. As long as we remember him.” Jerry was just making trouble, but I think our lives are full of thoughts and behaviors that are shaped in small and big ways by people we’ve loved or even just liked, and I think that’s really nice.
What things do you do that remind you of someone(s) you loved? Let me know!