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Hollywood Forever Cemetery

The dead are speaking to me. Sometimes when I am drifting off to sleep, my uncle Gene calls my name. In the shower or washing dishes, I hear Gam call me, “Shir.” Perhaps it’s because of this time of year, when the veil between this world and the next is as thin as the lace curtains in my kitchen.

The Mexican culture celebrates their departed, remembering them in tangible rituals and temporary altars decorated with memories: photographs, sugar skulls and dusty marigolds. It’s so civilized.

As a child, we are the sum total of the adults in our lives. As we mature, we meet peers who influence our tastes and preferences and paths. They teach us, shape and form us into the people we become. How can we NOT honor those influences just because they no longer inhabit bodies?

So I commemorate:

Gam, whose love never wavered, who gave me big band music, who taught me the names of flowers and how to be generous and kind.

Gene, whose cleverness developed mine and whose charm set the standard.

Gamp, whose laugh was silent and whose nature was gentle and who, by example, showed me the importance of exercise.

Marce, who taught me everything I know about antiques and collectables and who shaped my tastes as well as my sense of humor.

Austin, whose individuality, style and overt sensuality gave me permission to embrace mine.

And Sylvia, for her glamour, grace, confidence, humor and fabulousness…and ultimately with trusting me with her story. I haven’t given up.

Gone but never forgotten, I will continue to speak your names and tell your stories.