5 condolences: rituals

Brett and Grandpa make pancakes

My 12 year old son, Brett, loves routines and rituals – things he can expect and depend on day after day, year after year.  This week, we’re enjoying one of his favorite rituals – a holiday he calls “Christmastime Again” (named after the little-known Peanuts special, “It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown”).  Each year, my family converges at my brother’s house in Des Moines for a weeklong celebration that starts a few days after Christmas and continues into the New Year.  My parents fly in from California and we drive in from Chicago.  And suddenly, my brother’s house is packed full with 6 adults and 6 kids all sleeping under one roof.

Christmastime Again has special rituals all its own.  My husband and I bring dozens of cookies to share; my son makes chocolate chip pancakes with Grandpa; all the kids help Grandma make home-made noodles for chicken noodle soup; my brother shows off his rocket building skills at the Science Center of Iowa; the kids play in the snow and go sledding in the backyard until their cheeks are bright red and they are breathless; and the adults stay up way too late drinking wine, playing games, and laughing hysterically.  Now that I think about it, Christmastime Again is one of my favorite rituals too.

This week, we share 5 condolence messages about rituals:

  1. I first met Josie, Ray and their daughters, Mo, Sara & Katie when we moved across the street from them 40 years ago. Our neighborly relationship would not stop there.  Our family moved shortly afterward, but Josie & my mom, Beth made a New Year’s Resolution to walk on Balboa Island every day. They made it into a daily ritual which spanned nearly three decades. Throughout the years, many people joined them on their afternoon walks, and I was fortunate to be one of them. But over time the walks became more than just exercise; it seemed to me that whenever my Mom went on her walks with Josie, she seemed a happier, relaxed, and a more centered person. My Dad was happy considering all the money he was saving on therapy. When their good friend Meredith moved down from Los Angeles, Josie and my mom welcomed her into their afternoon ritual. The three of them became confidantes to one another, telling of their trials and successes, hopes and fears, doubts and dreams. It was through these “therapy sessions” that Josie expressed her love, and passed it onto the next generations. [Published in the Los Angeles Times]
  2. A spring ritual of mine over the years has been an annual trip to the Ozarks for crappie fishing with a selected few great guys. One of the highly respected “elders” of the group was Wild Bill Gibson. Having watched us grow up in our Turner neighborhood, Bill was familiar with us all as kids (sometimes not at our best!). He always offered a word or two of advice and knew how to relate to us. He treated us like men probably before we had earned it, and that was a big part of us finally making it there. We all turned out pretty good Wild Bill and we owe you some gratitude for it. I thank you for everything you’ve done for me, often without even knowing you were doing so. I’m seein’ you sittin’ on a dock in your bib overalls holdin’ a fishing pole in one hand and a 15 inch crappie in the other! Love you Wild Bill!! [Published in Kansas City Star]
  3. Its so hard to say good bye to an Uncle that made an ever lasting impression on my life. As a child, I so looked forward to seeing you every Friday night with my dad. It was a ritual that I will always remember. I still share my Childhood memories with my own children, of all the times we have spent together, whether it was Riverside Park every summer on a Sunday morning or Crabbing every Sunday after 8:00 am Mass at the Guilford Dock. I was so young, and yet, I still hear your laughter with my dad on your front step. [Published in the New Haven Register]
  4. I know you were doing flips and cheering as the girls played in their basketball games this past weekend. They definitely miss their daily ritual of calling you after their games and you giving them that “GRANDMOTHERLY” kudos, encouragement and joy. [Published in The Washington Post]
  5. Nana, I will always remember our weekly calls when I was a little girl and I would sing to you. I loved it when you would come to visit us – I loved watching your morning rituals and you eating your grapefruit and cottage cheese. You were impeccable, and will always remain so in my memories. You taught me many things – how to cook, how to clean… but mostly, that you should stop at nothing for the people you love. [Published in Boston Herald]

Legacy.com reviews one million condolence messages each month. Each week, we highlight 5 condolences with a common theme.

About Katie

I joined Legacy.com in 2002 as a part-time content screener and now serve as Director of Operations, overseeing Legacy’s day-to-day operations (Guest Book screening, obituary processing, customer service, and client service). I grew up in California, the daughter of a psychologist and a minister. My parents instilled in me the importance of listening to and caring about others. One of the things I appreciate most about working at Legacy.com is that I am able to have a small part in easing people's pain during one of the most difficult times in their lives. In my life outside of Legacy, I enjoy baking treats (and bringing them to the office to share), playing the piano, reading, taking pictures, tending to our vegetable & herb gardens, trying out new restaurants and foods, spending time with my husband, Chuck (whom I met at Legacy) and our kids, Brett Jr. & Josie, and playing with our hound dogs, Mugsy and Bo Jangles.
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