Allow me to share one of the traditions of my Mom’s clan (Astilla’s) – the annual grave visit.
On the first two nights of November of each year, the Astilla Clan plans the entire visit to our local cemetery – from which candles to buy to the type of food to bring. My grandma, grandpa, and about seven more relatives lay buried there.
Mom multitasks and tries to bring all the essentials, including food, flashlights and mosquito repellents, to name a few. Even though my other aunts and uncles would volunteer to bring food enough for all of us, Mom would still insist on buying pastries or snacks.
First on our list upon arrival is the lighting of the candles and offering of our prayers. I particularly like the huge red candles with gold dragons that one of my aunts always bring. Gives off the feeling of class, dignity, and a little Chinese vibe.
I have vivid memories of our food. As if top priority, we always had pizza. Pizza hardly left the scene. Heck, The Ninja Turtles would be jealous if they saw us. For starch, we didn’t always have rice. Bread and pastries replaced it usually. Pasta would also be available at times, mostly spaghetti or carbonara. I prefer the latter all the time. As for sweets, which was always present, there would be brownies, cakes, pastillas, and even branded chocolates. No one has a more prevalent sweet tooth than me. Hence the reason why I am always the prime target of mosquitoes. In case you were wondering, mosquitoes are attracted to humans with high blood sugar levels.
Bam! I inserted a little scientific fact in my post. How do you like that, huh? Oops! I got carried away.
Praying with the rosary commences soon after everyone has ate. I close my eyes as all of us pray in unison. The soothing sounds of nature coupled with our heartfelt prayers resonate euphorically. Night brings forth the ever twinkling stars and graces us with moonlight that irradiates an eerie yet calming aura.
A quick storytelling then ensues. I distinctly recall my uncle and his many riddles. All of us would be perplexed and keep guessing until we eventually give up. Here’s one of the riddles:
Three mothers, each accompanied by their two daughters, walk into a restaurant and occupies only seven chairs. How is this possible?
Good times. Unfortunately, this year would be different. Mom and the others would still be visiting our local cemetery… without me. I’m staying here in our country’s capital. Not necessarily a bad thing, me staying here. Just different, is all.
Happy All Saint’s Day! Don’t forget to visit your loved ones who have crossed over to other side.