YESTERDAY WE did what we always do on November 2. We tossed supplies into a big bucket — bleach, incense, lighter, broom, dustpan, trash bag, candles, plant clippers, etc. — and we headed to the downtown cemetery.
Due to the graves’ being shoulder to shoulder, the traditional Day of the Dead overnight vigils are not held in that cemetery. There simply is not enough room, so families go the next day to clean the tombs and leave flowers.
Outside the cemetery gates, you’ll find vendors selling flowers at inflated prices and painted coffee cans to fill with water and use as vases. You also hire boys, young men and even girls to help scrub the headstones while family members stand nearby and observe.
This year we encountered something quite disturbing. Two tombs to the left, bodies had been removed. In so doing, a metal fence that had surrounded those graves had been tossed willy-nilly atop the abutting grave and the following one, which was ours, brother Carlos who died at age 26 over 30 years ago.
We had not yet hired the helpers to scrub our grave, so my child bride headed out to find two young men, not kids. We needed someone strong enough to move the fencing, and that is what happened. Two young men with dyed blond hair muscled it back atop the empty graves.
I neglected to snap photos until after the fence had been manhandled back to where it came from. Here is where it came from:
Those empty holes go down about 10 feet, so having the fence around them is a good idea, especially if folks are stumbling about in the dead of night.
I remember who had been buried there before, a narco family. One of the homemade markers had an automatic rifle hand-painted on it. You don’t do that if you’re honest, church-going people. I wonder where they were moved to.
Today we continue our Day of the Dead duties. We’ll drive about 40 minutes southwest to the cemetery in the small town where my child bride spent her earliest years. Buried there are her mother and father.
Mother died at age 31 giving birth to her fifth and final child. Father died many years later at 61 of a heart attack. We’ll tidy up their stones, leave flowers, and go have lunch. Maybe some enchiladas.