I was reminded last night of my Great Grandmother’s belief that a person dies three times – not to mention her subtle request to always keep her memory alive.
Busha (Polish I believe for grandmother – at least that is what we were led to believe and a reason I myself refuse to be called Busha by my four-year old grandson) told me a person dies first when their physical body expires. Their second death occurs when people stop telling tales about them. Their third and final death occurs when no one is alive who knows who they were…as evidenced by portraits hanging in restaurants, sold in garage sales, or pictures in an album, inherited by a family member and gone through with a “don’t know who this person is – might as well throw it out”.
Last night my son and I were unpacking boxes filled with items and their matching appraisals from my mother-in-law, who died four years ago this August. As we were unpacking we started laughing about some of the things she cherished that to this day scares my son…specifically her love of clowns.
Curious, I called the number on the appraisal and was delighted to learn the number belonged to Harry, who was not only an auctioneer they visited often, but also a good friend of Mom and Dad. He related stories about them that I never knew, such as the time Dad told him how much he envied Harry for doing what he would have loved doing. And how much he enjoyed going over to Mom and Dad’s home to discuss a particular ivory sculpture.
It was a wonderful way to spend an evening…actually discussing two deceased people with a person who was not only fond of them but also delighted I had reached out to call him. I learned he no longer does auctions or appraisals, but began a magazine with his wife on spiritual healing. That in turn led to a discussion on religions, yoga, meditation, and other topics of common interest.
Hanging up I told my husband what Busha had said a long time ago, and my belief that Mom and Dad were still only on their first death. He looked at me strangely (which isn’t that unusual), but after thirty-four years of marriage he has learned to be patient and just nod his head. I proceeded to explain to him that there were still people alive with wonderful stories to tell about them, people who loved them, people who missed them.
Talking about those we have lost, those we have loved, is a gift we give not only to ourselves but to others. And for that reason I am glad I took the initiative to call a “phone” number on a piece of paper to see if he remembered my in-laws. It brought back wonderful memories of two lovely people who loved their family very much.
May they rest in peace until we meet again.