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The Birthday Party

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Plan, Host, Entertain, Celebrate, Reminisce, Enjoy

 

The Birthday Party

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In preparation for the party, Christy Warren already has all the furniture moved to an arranged location on the porch. A tablecloth adds prestige to the rustic, rural coconut lumber dining table. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr

The day of your birth is obviously the most important day of your life because that is the day your life begins. .

 

The average citizen calculates their year based on the current calendar from January 1 to December 31 each year.

 

Back in the 1980s,the United States Government determined their fiscal year would be from October 1 of one year until September 30 of the following year.

 

I have determined my calendar time-keeping system runs from October 30 of one year until October 30 of the following year. Therefore, my birthday is my yearly calendar.

 

The Most Important Day Of Your Life Each Year

 

My annual birthday anniversary each year is the most important day of my life each year. No one celebrates your birthday before you were born and it is unlikely anyone will celebrate your birthday, once you leave this life.

 

To celebrate your birthday, you need a party. Fortunately, in my life, I had a mother and I have a wife who understands the dynamics of planning and hosting a birthday party. I am a cake and ice cream person, which is all this 57-year-old man expected.

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The table settings combine the traditional American arrangement of the place settings of dishes with the daily arrangement of a Filipino table setting. The traditional large soup spoon and the fork, common daily silverware in a Filipino home, rests in the shallow soup bowl dishes.

 

The Pancit Canton in the plastic container is the Filipino food that symbolizes “Long Life” in the Filipino culture. Therefore, the noodles in the container are not cut during cooking. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Event Planning

 

Important, prestigious, social events demand professional planning and execution that is equal to, but, fortunately, not as crucial, as military operations. The success of any event begins months, weeks and days before “Zero Hour.”

 

Where the formal event – a party– is taking place in a boardroom on Wall Street or a diplomatic gathering at a building in a foreign nation’s capitol: the event has to be “right.” because it will be remembered and discussed for years to come.

 

Most people will not consider their birthday – a “Black Tie Affair At The White House.” I ain’t like most people. Daddy was a Texan. Momma had a sense of protocol that “There is a right way to do everything.”

 

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The dish, in the foreground, is barbeque pork sticks. The pork pieces are marinated for, at least, 24 hours and then placed on bamboo skewers to be roasted over an open grill fire.

 

The next dish is pork fried rice, Tiny pieces of pork, bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables are mixed into the white rice that is then fried.

 

The main dish is Pancit Canton. In the Philippines, there are two major type of pancit: Canton and Bihon. Bihon is the large, fat noodles. Pancit Canton is the extremely slender noodles that is cooked with a variety of vegetables.

 

The last dish is another plate of barbeque pork sticks. The pink plastic pitcher contains Pepsi Cola. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Southern Hospitality

Factor in my Texas aunts and uncles into my life and while I never refreshed with the mint julep, wearing my white suit and Panama Jack hat on the front porch of the plantation mansion – I still got the importance of Southern respect, hospitality, tradition and protocol.

 

Military Customs And Courtesies

 

Then, of course, Uncle Sam put me in numerous situation to work with and alongside protocol officers and sergeants and the diplomatic formal significance of events finally modified my DNA. “An event is always intended to be an Event. It is a moment of time that is intended to be remembered for years and, one would hope generations.”

 

Diplomatic Protocol

 

You do not have to be “The Ambassador Of The United States Of America” to a foreign country to host a memorable event. A birthday party should always be a memorable event because all of us only get so many. . .actually, so few, birthdays in our lifetime. Each birthday should be memorable.

 

If you really want to get formal with an event, then, you come up with a guest list and make sure the invitations go out in plenty of time for people to put the event on their personal business or social calendar. Naturally, you would either rely on your “Official” protocol people or hire a professional party planner.

 

In difficult economic times, you learn to do your homework and develop a to do list of tasks to be accomplished. Fortunately, for me, I married my “professional party planner”, who got exposed to military and diplomatic functions in the United States and overseas. Then, of course, my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren took great pride in briefing Christy on Warren and DeLong Family Traditions.

 

Know Your Surroundings

 

Christy understand the salad fork, lobster fork, soup spoon place settings and napkin ring holders for table settings. While she didn’t have an elegant American dining room to set the party up in, she knew the surroundings for the party location and knew hat had to be done.

 

Flexibility is a military reality and a common sense civilian virtue that always seems to get overlooked in planning.

 

In the United States, Christy had a gas stove, oven and air conditioning to be able to prepare a variety of dishes. She had the silver chaffing dishes with the sterno cans underneath to keep the food warm and she set the table to allow for buffet style birthday parties.

 

In the Republic of the Philippines, she had a two burner hot plate hooked to an RV sized hot plate, a wooden table serves as the kitchen island. She has some large pots and pans to cook in. A curved rebar rod on two small concrete blocks set beside the house will provide the makeshift camping stove that Leneil Saldana usually uses with coconut shell briquets to provide an extra cooking stove for an additional dish like pork sticks.

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Leneil Saldana

Coconut Shell Briquets

 

In the United States, portable barbeque grills using charcoal briquets and lighter fluid provide the fire for outdoor cooking. In the Philippines, the plentiful coconut shell gets busted up and set on fire. Like charcoal briquets, the coconut shells seem to burn evenly and slowly for a consistent fire and heat for cooking.

 

Temperature is a persistent and, sometimes uncomfortable, reality in the Philippines. The kitchen area is currently “too” open to allow an air conditioner to work in the kitchen area. October’s frequent monsoon rains provides a change in the humidity that makes it easier to cook that in August when the sun reigns supreme over the landscape.

 

Christy Warren always exceeds expectations, regardless of the conditions; which is the mark of a true “party planner.”

 

Fate’s Flexibility Factors

 

Fate loves to dabble in event plans, which is why, it is always crucial to remember – Keep The Plans Flexible. Fate is that mysterious entity always luring in the shadows waiting for the right moment to throw a wrench into your plans.

 

The Battle Of Leyte Gulf Anniversary Week and Tropical Storm Ofel were events that made the event a touch and go operation going down to the wire.

 

I had spent the week researching and writing articles on the 68th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Leyte Gulf because the dates of battles for “Freedom” rank right up there with birthdays in my world view.

 

Then, Tropical Storm Ofel decided to complicate matters by using high winds to knock out the power for six days. When the lights did come back on briefly for about 20 minutes on October 28; a transformer blew and darkness returned. When the power did finally come back on on October 29, I dashed to the laptop and began editing photos and polishing the copy for an article for my blog.

 

The sun rose on October 30, 2012 and once I saw that my Sam I Am Blog article was published. I could finally get a good night’s sleep. At around 8 a.m., I decided to get some sleep. “Happy Birthday to me.”

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Christy Warren – Party Planner

Christy The Birthday Party Planner

 

Meanwhile, Christy already had her own plans underway, My wife is a Leo, a Fixed Sign. Fixed Sign Zodiac people have their own way of doing things.

 

Leo is the one sign of the Zodiac that is “Born To The Spotlight.” More actors, kings, queens,princes, and princesses are born under the sign of Leo than any other Zodiac sign. In my experience, if a Leo is your party planner, you may as well take a “nap” because they have the situation handled from the git go.

 

While I slept, Christy went to the local market and bought the fresh vegetables for the dishes to be cooked. She directed the kids on where to move furniture and prepared the meal. When I awoke in the afternoon, after my Rip Van Winkle nap, the only task that remained for the party planner and our nephews was to set the table.

 

Ranilo and Rayniel Saldana, my nephews, took their own initiative, and allowances, to select the chocolate cake, icing and the decorations to go on the birthday cake.

 

I heard Christy tell the kids the birthday party was “semi-formal”, which meant T-shirts, walking shorts and sandals were the attire for the Philippines’ afternoon heat and the dining area on the porch.

 

The tablecloth hid the rustic dining table’s humble rural coconut lumber origin. The plastic light green chairs replaced the usual wooden bench seating that goes with the table. The plates and the silverware setting were what you would expect for a traditional birthday party table.

 

Birthday Party Cuisine

 

The menu consisted of barbeque pork sticks, pork fried rice and, of course, pancit canton. In the Philippines, pancit canton is long, skinny noodles cooked with slices of carrots and other vegetables.

 

Pancit Canton is the food served to symbolize “long life,” so the noodles aren’t cut and you have a food that has those lengthy spaghetti style noodles that you either wrap around a fork or lift high up to get in your plate.

 

A couple of plastic pitchers filled with Pepsi Cola for the kids and, of course, coffee for Sam. While everyone ate and talked, I looked around the table at the faces and smiled because I thought of family and friends back in the United States.

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Family And Friends Faraway On a family outing to the beach, earlier this year, I shot the photo of these local fishing boats on the shore. The number of fishing boats on the beach are symbolic of a family. The Pacific Ocean in the photograph is a reminder of family and friends faraway.

Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Family and Friends Faraway

 

I thought of Cousin Donna and wondered if she would be going to play the slot machines in the casinos anytime soon and wished that we could check out the casino that I spotted on Clark Air Base.

 

I wondered if Ken Sexton is still working with the local Vietnam Veterans’ group and performing color guard functions for military funerals and at public events.

 

I imagined Wade Martin is still driving a Galena school bus and would be amazed to see that farming in the Philippines is a lot like farming in the United States. I was surprised earlier in the week, to stroll along and notice a Jersey heifer munching on the tall grass in a nearby barangay.

 

Nancy Campbell, a close friend of mine and my wife, Christy, had left Missouri and moved back to a small town in Texas. Every time I see a motorcycle in the Philippines, I am reminded of Nancy – there are a lot of motorcycles in the Philippines.

 

Nancy is one of those people you meet in life and would never imagine her “headin’ out on the highway . . . on a Harley.” But, Nancy said that in her 20s, she enjoyed the wind through her hair and the feel of the open road stretching out across the horizon.

 

It is nice to image, Nancy,in her Harley leathers riding along the open highway flashing past those square black signs with the proud white Lone Star State crest brandishing the highway numbers.

 

I wondered if T. Michael Ottens still lived in Elkins, West Virginia. We were classmates back at School Of The Ozarks, back in the days before computers, the Internet, facebook, twitter and cell phones. We didn’t have to use stone hammers and chisels to do our homework, but, typewriters, like their children the computer – weren’t always cooperative.

 

United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Jake Slusher, my “runnin’ buddy” back at Kadena Air Base Okinawa probably is a grandfather by now living somewhere in the United States. . .or possibly, in the Philippines.

 

United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Bobby Thomas, a “runnin’ buddy” and fellow Air Force newspaperman was putting down roots somewhere in Japan, years ago, when I caught the “Freedom Bird” out of Okinawa.

 

J.R. Baker, was my roommate, back in my Bossier City, Louisiana, days. I saw J.R.. years ago. and he had went into the United States Army and went up in rank. I would be surprised if J.R., did not retire as a United States Army command sergeant major because he always understood, “The System.”

 

Greg Pyron, my friend and classmate at School Of The Ozarks, I learned had become a grandfather. Greg always had the award-winning smile and his code of personal appearance each day, looked as though he litterally stepped out of the pages of “GQ” magazine. He became the living embodiment of “The Classic American FM Voice.”

 

Greg had the soft, distinct voice that merged with the air in a room full of girls and women. Greg would speak and you would see a change come over the women in the room. A twinkle would appear in their eyes and the emerging smile on their lips confirmed a flight of fantasy had begun in their minds along the lines of Harlequin Romance novels.

 

In college, at radio station KSOZ-FM, Greg helped me overcome my fear of “The Open Mike” and taught me ways to relax behind the microphone.

 

Michael Roy Truly Rogers, my contemporary hero and classmate at School Of The Ozarks, had a dream to work at radio station WLS-AM Chicago. I heard that Mike’s dream came true. Mike, a handsome man, took the 1970’s James Dean Rebel Approach to life.

James Dean, the young Hollywood actor, became “The Immortal American Teenage Rebel Symbol Of The 1950s. Mike Rogers’ approach to life took the basic “rebel” idea and slipped on the contemporary 1970s wardrobe. He usually wore T-shirts and denim jeans cut-offs. He had a distinct deep voice that had almost a James Earl Jones quality, with the Wolfman Jack energy.

 

In a room full of girls and women, Mike would smile,speak and the women be “mesmerized” into a Count Dracula state of hypnosis.

 

Little girls would bounce up and down like they were on pogo sticks, teenage girls would swoon, middle age women would have a motel smirk curl the smile of their lips and senior citizen “granny” women would smile.

 

The transition of “granny” age women happened in the eyes. You could watch them blink away the years, and the innuendo smile on their faces would suggest their minds were “rewriting” a fantasy that had Mike as one of their beaus, center stage, in their past.

 

The Ladies Men” – Mike and Greg

 

I always admired Mike and Greg because their “Radio Disc Jockey Voices” seem to give them an almost uncanny power “over” women or the audio quality to get through to women at any level, virtually any time they seemed to wish it. They had made “Star Trek’s Mr. Spock Mind Meld Technique”as easy and natural as breathing and it seemed “every woman on planet Earth was powerless against the suave, debonair voices of Mike and Greg each with their distinct traits.”

 

Mike always seemed more aloof and not as easy to become friends with as Greg. Mike was only about a year older than me, but, I looked up to him like he was a respected, revered, wise, sage elder. And, Mike also helped me to become relaxed behind the microphone and proficient, even skilled, at operating the controls of a radio station in the control room. At KSOZ-FM, we classified Mike as the living, breathing, embodiment of “The Classic AM American Rock Disc Jockey Voice.”

 

I like to imagine that Mike is still working as “an AM Rock Jock” and teaching legions of future broadcaster how to pull off a contemporary Wolfman Jack voice with such class and style that listeners tune in every morning to get the Walter Cronkite credibility and the adrenaline voltage to take them from their morning coffee and newspaper straight to the boardroom to close million dollar deals without batting an eye or breaking a sweat.

 

The Birthday Party Guests

 

My family and friends in the United States, weren’t seated around the table for the “birthday party”, but, the fact that they were in my mind ,reminded me, that I was grateful of the roles each of these people had played in my life and to me – it meant they were at the birthday party.

 

I looked around the table at Edwin Mora, Christy’s cousin and a local hog farmer, who smiled at his wife Babysel, who leans back in the chair to accommodate her prominent pregnant stomach. “The Babysel Watch” began October 26 and the “bouncing bundle of joy” is apparently taking his or her time to get their itinerary in order.

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Rachel Mora, smiles at me and drops down out of the chair to check on her little brother, Randolf Mora, Leneil Saldana passes her husband, Ramon, Christy’s brother, the platter of pork sticks. Ranilo Saldana concentrates on the pork fried rice on the plate, in front of him.

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Rafael Saldana,Christy’s brother and a coconut farmer, adds some more pancit canton to his plate. Nieces Vanissa Saldana and Junea Tanahale had errands to run with Virgie and Esmeralda, their mothers, so they were not at the party.

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Christy waves to her Aunt Pising walking by and she turns around and walks into the birthday party. Mano Bito, a local rice farmer, strolls into the party. Everyone is talking in Tagalog and Waray and I am truly enjoying Christy’s pork fried rice and “finger lickin’ good barbeque pork sticks”. Young Rayniel Saldana looks at the birthday cake and at me – I get the message.

 

Five-Star Birthday Party

 

Rayniel’s big eyes looking at me brought me out of my mind and back into The Real World.

 

English ?

 

Tagalog ?

 

Waray ?

 

Language is not necessary, when the cake remains to be cut and the containers of cold ice cream are placed on the table.

 

One nice thing about being a cigarette smoker, your lighter to light the candles is always in your pocket and ready to use. I lit the candle and made my wish. I blew out the candles on the first try. The cake and ice cream went around the table to the smiling hungry faces of the children.

 

Once again, Christy had planned, prepared,and hosted a five-star birthday party that became a successful reality. She created delicious dishes and provided the relaxed atmosphere for conversation and reflection that is needed for any event or party to be memorable.

Philippines’ Ponder Points

 

It has been less than a year,since we returned to the Philippines. Life has proven that you are never too old to learn. Your expectations overall don’t always work out the way you think they will – that is a “life lesson” that I seem to get reminded of each year.

 

My After Action Report for 2012

 

One of Uncle Sam’s requirements I have held on to. After important events, the United States Government always takes the time to reflect and collect data on an event to see if it achieved the goals.

 

If the event is an annual event, then, what needs to be done next year to make sure the event Is a success. Watch your Hollywood movies and the actors playing government officials, diplomats, generals and admirals are always talking about their “Sitreps” – situation reports – and their “After Action Report.”

 

I sat at the table, lit a cigarette, sipped my coffee and thought about “My After Action Report” for the current year.

 

Overall, though, when I stop to remember the day we arrived at the airport in Manila and looked at where we stood on October 30, 2012, like they say, in the old commercials, “You’ve Come Along Way, Baby.”

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  Christy Warren, and our niece, Vanissa Saldana stroll, in front of< Robinson’s Place in Tacloban City to go “shopping.” Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

  NIKON D 100 Photo 0010_by Samuel E Warren Jr  Junea Tanahale, our niece, makes a flower arrangement. “Aunt” Christy Warren, one summer morning, instructed Junea and Vanissa Saldana on the way to do the formal place settings on a table and instructed them on making flower arrangements. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Christy and I have learned a lot in less than a year. There are obvious similarities between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States and there are some significant differences between both countries, even if you lived in a rural area of the USA.

 

I could look around the table at the faces and remember moments from earlier in the year when we bought the refrigerator, but it was only delivered to the side of the road because the yard was too soft for the truck to take it all the way, so family members carried it to the house.

 

Life’s On The Job Training

 

Ramon, my brother-in-law has always been more like a son to me. When I was a young G.I., Ramon lived with Christy and I,in Angeles City, near Clark Air Base, and went to school.

 

Now, Ramon is a man with a family of his own. A mechanic, Ramon has become a self-taught carpenter. He built a wall-mounted shrine for the living room. Then, he used bamboo and concrete and built an impressive hog house..

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HOG HOUSE

in this photograph the second pen of the house house is still under construction. The first pen already had two hogs rooting around the pen. Ramon Q. Saldana Jr., built this hog house. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

SARI SARI STORE BUILT BY RAMON

SARI SARI STORE built by Ramon Q. Saldana Jr.

Ramon is a self-taught carpenter. He built a hog house and, then, built a Sari-Sari Store in Barangay Baras. In this photo, Ramon and a visitor sit in front of the small store. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

We had been fortunate to go to the beach and go swimming a couple of times this year. We had all survived. My Canon EOS 40 D camera didn’t. An accidental dip of about 30 seconds in a big wave must have been too much for the onboard sensors. Fortunately, I had a Nikon on standby.

 

Division Downsizing

 

A US Army-sized division of distant relatives had greeted us at the airport in Manila and a battalion of distant relatives had escorted us to Leyte. As the fiscal budget year wore on , Christy and I didn’t always sign off on proposals like the Manila based 10-wheeler cargo trucking line to Leyte.

 

The companies of disgruntled, distant relative began their own “downsizing” and “redeployment” back to the island of Luzon and the municipalities of Angeles City and Manila.

 

Warren-building

 

While the United States Government, Iraq and Afghanistan continue their “Nation-building” of governments, infrastructure nad cultures, Christy and I have been involved in Warren-building on the island of Leyte. I have concentrated on my photography and writing articles for my blog. Christy has concentrated on the renovations to turn One Warren Way from an unused rice mill building into a home.

 

Christy got her dream of the CSW Cafe in Tacloban City. Eight kids began the school year at One Warren Way, Four kids went “Republican” and exercised an “Exit strategy” to “retired” to somewhere else on the island of Leyte.

 

All in all, it has been an exciting year of challenges, successes and a couple of disappointments. Christmas is beyond Halloween, so that future operation is under Christy’s chain of command.

 

My significant shortfall, this year, is that I didn’t plan far enough ahead for the kids to have a “Halloween Party.” I had hoped they and their friends would be able to have the Halloween costume party at the house. The Halloween custom seems to be catching on in Manila, but, has, yet, to make it to rural Leyte.

 

My Holiday Is Halloween

 

Halloween is “my holiday” and is the other day of the year I look forward to each year. I have my mother to “Thank” for the Halloween Party memories.

 

As a small boy in rural southwest Missouri in the 1960s, “birthday parties” were an uncommon idea. There were no McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Taco Bell, or any other fast food restaurants to offer birthday party plans in nearby Branson, Missouri in 1960. Silver Dollar City had just recently opened their gates and the old white clapboard Abesville grade school stood across the gravel road from the brick school house.

 

The old Abesville Grade Schoolhouse was the classic small white schoolhouse with the steeple and red roof that you see in the Hollywood movies; it had retired as a schoolhouse and had become the meeting place for the Abesville 4-H Club.

 

Halloween And Birthday Party Tradition

 

Beginning in the first grade, my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren set a precedent: my birthday party.

 

Kids in rural southwest Missouri really didn’t have birthday parties in the fall and winter months. Your classmates didn’t live blocks away; they usually lived miles away.

 

School District Logistics

 

The Galena RII School District would have kids who lived a few steps from the Reeds Spriing school district get on the yellow bus to made the arduous commute to Abesville Grade School or Galena High School each morning.

 

Meanwhile, kids in Wheelerville, Cross Roads, and Jenkins would watch the yellow school buses of the Crane School district pass by their farms, while they waited patiently for their Galena school bus.

 

Thus, Galena school students from, near Reeds Springs, and from near Wheelerville, Cross Roads and Jenkins, were like American G.I.s because each morning they had to “deploy” for the long bus ride to and from Abesville or Galena

 

The students might spend about two hours on the bus each morning before they ever arrived at school and then two hours each night before they ever reached home. The School District Logistics Of Travel each morning and evening worked against the childhood opportunities to attend a birthday party.

 

Weird Weather

 

The fall weather, in October, was always as uncertain as the promises of a politician; the weather changes quickly in southwest Missouri in autumn.

 

The weather for Halloween in southwest Missouri is usually like a Wes Craven or John Carpenter horror movie where the London fog meets the Seattle rain. Some years, the skeletal bone-chilling cold would sink through your coat and speed your steps The tips of your nose would tingle in the cold. You could feel the sting of the biting cold bite into your ears, The weird weather of Halloween seemed to exercise demonic persecution of children, who just wanted to get a few pieces of candy.

 

It seldom snowed on Halloween, in my childhood, but, the dismal, eerie, cold. Damp, depressing feel of the weather always kept children close to home. If you were lucky, your parents might drive you to Galena, so you could go “Trick Or Treat” at a few homes.

 

By the 1980s, officials at the Stone County Courthouse had arranged a Halloween Party to allow the kids to “Trick Or Treat” in a more fun and less “survival expert” way to celebrate Halloween.

 

Momma’s Miracle – My Birthday Party

 

In the 1960s, in southwest Missouri, the idea of autumn and winter birthday parties and Halloween Parties were as vague as the dream of the Internet.

 

My mother talked to Mrs. Russell, my first grade teacher, My birthday party and the class Halloween celebration became an annual event that continued each year for seven years; right up until my classmates and I entered the eighth grade at Galena High School.

 

Momma would bring the big vanilla sheet cake that always had my “Happy Birthday” greeting and “Happy Halloween” lettered in icing on the cake. The Kool-Aid with the cake gave me the reason to look forward to my birthday and the other kids commented that when they saw the cake they knew it was time for Halloween.

 

At 57, I can look back on a successful birthday party, remember the fun parties of childhood, and make a note to plan for the nephews a Halloween Party for next year. Then, again, I think I know a party planner up to the challenge of hosting a Halloween party: “Christy, honey, what do you say, for next year, we plan,for the kids, a Halloween Party?”

 

Christy ?”

THE CAKE_Happy 57th Birthday Samuel E Warren Jr Nikon D 100 Photo by Sanuel E Warren Jr 029 - Copy

The Birthday Cake

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

November 4, 2012 at 5:41 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Current Events, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Leyte, Observances, Opinion, Philippines, Photos, Stone County History

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“All I Want For Christmas Is . . .A Washing Machine.” Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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CHRISTY DOES THE LAUNDRY_2457_resized

“All I Want For Christmas Is . . .A Washing Machine.” Christy Warren washes clothes in Barangay Baras, Leyte, Republic of the Philippines.  It is a common sight to see Filipinas in the province washing their families’ clothes almost everyday.  In rural and remote areas, water lines and the infrastructure to supply water is not always readily available, even, when you live on an island in the middle of the ocean.  Christy had a Whirlpool washer and a Kenmore dryer in our home in the United States.  But, she made a decision.  In my lifetime, I have witnessed three women, who know the word, “family,” to be more than just a series of letters in the dictionary.  Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, Donna DeLong, my cousin, and Christy Warren, my wife.  In my lifetime, I have heard many people “talk” about “family,” but, these three women always moved “Heaven and Earth” for “family” and I witnessed it time and again.  When we retired, Christy had a dream that some day we would move back to the Philippines to be close to her “family”; it took a few years, but, it is difficult to deny the dream of a “Leo Lady.”  Nikon D 100 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

My Momma Is A Welder

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My Momma Is A Welder_8534

My Momma Is A Welder – Opal M. DeLong Warren served as one of the welders in the Todd Houston Shipyard, in Houston, Texas, during World War II. Momma encouraged me to refine my welding skills when I took vocational agriculture in high school.  And, now, Ramon, in Leyte, is using his welding skills on the farm.   Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

My mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren was a welder in the Todd Houston Shipyard, in Houston, Texas, during World War II.

Today, February 28, 2012, is momma’s birthday. She was born on this day in 1920, the year the Show Me State gave women the right to vote.

Born in Peach Tree Holler, near Reeds Springs, Missouri. She rode a horse called, “Shorty,” to the Bear Den school.

She grew up on the farm in southwest Missouri. During World War II, momma and a friend got on a Greyhound bus and decided to see where it would take them. They did it on a whim. The girl got off the bus in Dallas. Momma didn’t like the looks of Dallas so she got back on the bus. When the bus stopped in Houston, she decided she liked the looks of Houston and got off the bus.

She knew no one in Houston.

She would often tell me the money she had in her pocket only allowed her to eat bread and drank water until she got a job about a week later. She saw an ad in the newspaper for welders.

She didn’t even know what a welding machine looked like.

First Day Of Welding School Story

Todd Houston officials sent her to welding school. “The first day of welding school all I had to wear was a white satin blouse. The sparks from the welding rod burned several holes in my blouse. I had to ride the bus back across town home. I was so embarrassed,” said Opal Warren.

Momma loved to tell her “First Day Of Welding School” story, especially years later when I took welding in vow-ag in high school.

She said she was proud of the U.S. Navy ships that she welded on, but admitted that it was sad when they launched because with the war on she knew “some of the boys that served on the ships probably wouldn’t be coming home.”

Momma would have been 92 today.

“Momma’s Boy”

But, she left this life Friday, June 11, 2004 in Springfield, Missouri. Being a “Momma’s Boy,” her spirit lives on. Today in Leyte, Philippines, my wife, Christy and I talked about momma to her brothers, sister, nieces and nephews. Now, The Legend Of Opal Warren will live on – on two continents – the United States and the Philippines.

In the United States, I had adopted the Filipino Death Anniversary custom to observe my mother’s passing each year. But, since her passing, Christy and I usually just talk about Momma and light a candle at 6 p.m., to honor her memory.

SANTA NINO_8550

The Death Anniversary Custom involves placing a favorite drink, a plate of food or a favorite food, by a candle.  If the person smoked a pipe or cigarette then the custom suggest that tobacco also be placed by the food.  This year, the candle burns, in front of a small Santa Nino and a larger Santa Nino.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

In her lifetime, momma always commented, “I’m too old to celebrate birthdays, so, I just quit having them.” Still,if it looked like we had forgotten momma’s birthday, then, she would get solemn. Of course, when the guests started showing up, a smile would come to her face. Regardless of what she said, momma did enjoy celebrating her birthday and she truly enjoyed friends and neighbors stopping by to share her day.

Beyond Birthdays

My mother was always important to me. She still is. And the lessons she tried to teach me, I now pass on in the form of Stateside wisdom to my nieces and nephews.

We went to the open air Tacloban City Public Market, the Palo Public Market and shopped in Tanauan today.

A LANTSA BOAT IN PEDRO BAY AT TACLOBAN CITY LEYTE PHILIPPINES_8121

A  Lantsa boat is tied up in the waters of Pedro Bay in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines.  The Tacloban City Public Market is in the background.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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The Tacloban City Public Market Fish Section is located beside the bay.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

ONE SECTION OF THE PALO PUBLIC  MARKET_8277

Stroll along the corridors of the Palo Public Market to shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, rice and other merchandise.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

When we returned home, Christy, her sister, Marife, cousin, Pina and Ann Ann prepared supper : Pork sticks, pancit bihon,pancit canton, rice, sweet and sour fish, cake and ice cream. At dinner, Christy and I talked about Momma.

 

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Pina Gempis

MARIFE SALDANA ROA SERVES THE CHOCOLATE CAKE_8548

Marife Saldana Roa serves the chocolate cake.  Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

I’m convinced Momma’s spiritual presence showed up early this morning. Yesterday, we bought a welding helmet and Ramon rented an arc welder. Today, was the day he placed together pieces of pipe to weld a gate for his hog pen. In my childhood, momma raised 25 head of hogs on 10 acres and each one of the old sows usually had a litter of 8 to 17 pigs. Momma had Yorkshire, Hampshire and Duroc hogs.

Here in Leyte, Ramon has a Yorkshire sow that has six pigs, (or piglets as they are called in the Philippines). I can imagine that when Ramon was welding the gate today there was probably a presence looking over his shoulder and whispering, “Not so fast. Take your time. Make small circles with the molten metal. Concentrate and you can run a nice bead.”

After all, My Momma Is A Welder.

Happy Birthday, Momma.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Death Anniversary Ceremony Considerations

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Plans, Procedures, Performance

Death Anniversary

Ceremony Considerations

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

If you are interested in the Death Anniversary Ceremony there may be other sources on the Internet with this information. If you are fortunate enough to know a Filipino man or a Filipina woman, then, they might be willing to explain if their family observes this type of ceremony or tell you the procedures their family uses.

Annual Observance

I used the basics of a ceremony that I witnessed in the Republic of the Philippines in 1989. While the family explained that the ceremony is conducted every year for 10 years straight on the anniversary of the day of the death of the Loved One – they did explain that families sometimes do continue the ceremony for a number of years past the 10 year date.

The point is that the family conducts the observance to remember the Loved One who has passed on. And, even without a formal observance, the memory of the Loved One is kept alive by family stories of their lives that get passed on to the younger generations.

The Significance Of Ritual – Focus

I adapted the Death Anniversary Ceremony to fit my understanding and needs.

Papa Warren had been a Mason. Daddy had been a Mason. When I was 13, I joined the Order of DeMolay and learned the significance and importance of formal ritual. Ritual often becomes so rooted in tradition and history that people forget someone had to sit down and come up with the original procedures.

When I began to research Magick, it became apparent that even the old alchemist and ancient magickians knew the significance of ritual causes the mind to focus. The Altered State Of Mental Consciousness allows you to focus intently on the issue at hand and to ignore any petty concerns that aren’t important to the the matters at hand.

Another tactic of the ancient magickians is they would tinker with their procedures until they came up with rituals that they believed worked for them. Then, they wrote down the procedures and would use them as need. They had created their own rituals.

Candle Choice

In the article, Momma’s Death Anniversary, the candle in the photograph, is a light blue eight inch taper candle.

Blue Candle - In the Philippines, I learned that a candle lit to honor a Loved One is watched closely for indications of the Loved One's reaction of pleasure or disappointment with issues in the family at an Annual Death Anniversary Ceremony. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

There are books on candles that cover color and candle making. Candles are often associated with religion. However, candles share a long history of use in magick.

Some sources point out that the colors of candles suggest the use. White, basically is an all purpose color. Green is often mentioned to use for health or money. Purple is a color to set up to request or perform physic awareness. There are various sources that suggests various colors for various functions.

Some people who work with candles will have a preference of the material that the candle is made out of. Again, there are books and sources on the Internet to explain the various materials used to create a candle.

I used the light blue candle simply because I could not find Momma’s memorial green taper candle that I had put away last year after the ceremony.

I believe the Universe has dealt with people long enough to understand that often times we use what we have on hand at the time.

The Power Of A Candle - A candle is a light in the darkness. Candles have a long history of use in religion and magick. Visit a bookstore, a local library or surf the Internet for books on candles. Some authors point out that color should be considered in their use and explain the different materials that can be used to make a candle. Llewellyn Worldwide is one publisher of books that offers an assortment of information on candles. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Naturally, children should have parents set up the ceremony for them. And, if a candle is used then Mom or Dad lights the candle and makes sure it is watched until the candle is out.

The Time Factor

In The Death Anniversary Ceremony, you light the candle at 6 pm., and let it burn for an hour. The 6 pm, time is used, as it was explained to me, because of a cultural belief in the Philippines that when the sun goes down around 6pm, then, spirits have the ability to stroll about in The Real World. Thus, beginning at 6 pm, in the evening, it is considered relatively easy to establish contact with spirits. At sunrise, supposedly, spirits return to their own dimensions.

Spirit Communications

While Americans might consider only a day or two before of after Halloween as the time when The Veil Between The Worlds are thinnest to allow for Spirit Communication; in the Philippines, in the late 1980s, any day after 6 pm, was considered a good time to try for any type of Spirit Communication.

The cultural belief on Spirit Communication is easy to understand when you realize The Republic Of The Philippines is a devoutly religious country with also has centuries of belief and traditions in folklore magick in the rural provinces.

In the Philippines, the candle flame was watched for a response. Flickering candle flames were a sign that a spiritual presence had made contact. Based on the way that the flame reacted it was believed that the spirit was trying to convey either pleasure or disappointment at some of the family’s actions, during the past year. The way that the wax pools underneath the candle flame is taken as a sign of spirit communication, as well as, the manner in which the hot wax flows down the side of the candle is an indication of the spirit’s approval or disapproval of issues going on in the family.

Ritual Tool

In the Philippines ceremony that I witnessed, once the candle was extinguished it was saved for use the next year. In formal rituals in all ceremonies you have ritual tools that are kept packed away until it is time to use them and then they are carefully packed away until the next use in a formal ceremony. In essence, the candle used in the Death Anniversary Ceremony becomes a ritual tool. Thus, it is carefully put away and not used again until the next year.

Usually a candle will not melt away with only an hour’s use. Thus, a Death Anniversary Candle should last for a few years.

Candles have a long history of use in religion and magick. One magick belief is that basically a candle can be seen in other dimensions or to send a message to other spiritual realms. To 21st Century Americans this might seem like a quaint idea, but, if you consider how limited life must have been, even in the United States from the 1700s to the 1800s before electricity finally became commonplace – then, you can appreciate the significance of a candle. In rural America, when the sun went down you either went to bed or used a “coal oil” (kerosene) lamp until bedtime.

Fire Safety

Make sure your candle is in an appropriate holder that will allow a candle to sit upright and burn safely.

Always remember to watch your lit candle. Never, ever leave a burning candle unattended.

Your Procedure

Once the candle is in the holder and lit, you can sit and look at the candle. If you find thoughts in your mind are directed toward the candle, then, that is your procedure to perform the ceremony.

If you talk to your loved one in a chair behind the candle, then, that is your way to perform the ceremony.

If you want to look at the candle and pray silently or pray aloud, then, that is your procedure to perform the ceremony.

The point is whatever procedure comes to your mind is the technique that will probably help you to feel the most relaxed and at ease. One major purpose of the ceremony is to help you to feel at ease and to experience a sense of peace.

Candle Snuffer

If you use candles, then, you probably have a candle snuffer. Mine is a black bell shaped snuffer. The snuffer is a clean, safe way to extinguish the candle. In magick work, you do not blow out a candle.

Candle Snuffer - A candle snuffer lowered over the flame of a candle is a safe way to extinguish the blaze. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

When an ordinary candle is used up, people traditionally make sure it is cold and can be placed in the trash.

Expiration

Eventually, the candle will have melted away. Once the natural expiration occurs, then, you have to decide how to properly dispose of the candle. A ceremonial candle used in an observance: personal, religious or magick is traditionally treated with more concern than a candle used for a romantic dinner or for a power outage use.

A Death Anniversary Candle is a ritual tool and a symbol of a somber observance, thus, the demise should be appropriate. The candle remains, melted wax and any of the pieces can be placed in a paper towel and then placed in a little hole you dug in your yard and covered over. In contemporary America this is an easy way to recycle the candle remains into the earth. As a traditional magick belief, Earth as one of the elements absorbs the candle pieces to purify them and prepare them for rebirth and renewal.

Another option is to place the candle pieces in a nearby stream. Again, in contemporary America, placing the candle pieces into the water is a simple matter of letting nature do the recycling. Water is one of the major elements in Western Magick, thus, by placing the candle pieces in a flowing body of water like a stream, creek or river, you are allowing the earth to recycle and purify the candle pieces.

The Death Anniversary Ceremony is an observance that I witnessed and adapted to fit my personal needs to deal with the grief of the loss of my mother.

Your Personal Grief Ritual

If people feel they need some type of ritual to deal with a personal loss, then, by all means seek out a ritual. Keep in mind,

Rosary Beads On Cathedral Amethyst - Catholicism has a long history of formal rituals for use in worship. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

we all have daily rituals like shaving in the morning. We have rituals like what time we go to lunch and even rituals of – we eat lunch at our desk or leave the office and go somewhere for lunch. Everyone’s life is composed of a series of rituals that we perform so often that we don’t even recognize these actions as small daily rituals.

Holy Bible - Religious books are a source of inspiration in designing a ritual for a specific, personal purpose. Every photo has a story. When I went outside to use the Bible for the photo shoot, when I opened it - it opened to Second Samuel. After trying some different natural backgrounds, I tried this one and opened it to a chapter in Samuel. I had the Bible positioned on the TV snack tray table to take the photo. The sun shined and there were no breezes. As I snapped the shutter a breeze caught the page. I leave it to the reader to determine the meaning. Since the Universe had recommended Samuel when I began selecting natural backgrounds, it could be the Universe might have a subtle sense of humor at times. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Observances are usually formal rituals. Church on Sunday is a ritual. Every Faith has a series of rituals that begin once you step through the door and the rituals are designed to focus the mind on the matter at hand.

You can surf the Internet or stop by the local library to research the different types of rituals used for funerals, memorials and observances. If the chosen ceremony seems elaborate, time consuming, requires a lot of props and gear to carry out – remember: Adapt.

Pentacle In Spheres - My research into the Wicca religion suggests that it is a religion concerned with nature. Wicca, I believe, encourages people to try to live in the flow of the Universe, on earth or beyond. There seems to be a wealth of rituals that can be practiced or used for inspiration to create your own. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Use What Works

Spiritual Beliefs - Death of a Loved One is a Major Challenge to your personal spiritual beliefs. The Personal Grief might force you to look inside yourself and examine your beliefs in the smallest details. I sought out resources from the religious community and decided to try and find a spiritual path, which led to a ritual - The Death Anniversary Ceremony - which has helped me. Anyone should be free to search out a path that works in the time of loss and personal grief. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Use what works. Jot down the information on the ceremony that you find at the library or while surfing the Internet. Work a pencil to add to and take away from the ceremony, until you have come up with your own personal ritual that will be of meaning to you. We are all human, but we each have different needs, attitudes, personalities and life experiences – What works for Aunt Darlene might not work for you.

Use what works for you.

Best Wishes - Best Wishes In Your Journey Through Life. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 Sam

Momma’s Death Anniversary – Editorial – Opinion

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Momma’s Death Anniversary

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Friday, June 11, 2004 – The sun would come up. It did not matter to me.

The beautiful sunrise through the curtains of a waiting lounge at Cox South Hospital blanketed a new day on the world. I was numb. I had been shoved into my personal twilight zone. The hospital chaplain sat beside me at the table and tried to use words to comfort me. I have no doubt he believed them.

I wasn’t too concerned about my friend, God.

The most devastating event in my life had only happened a few minutes before.

Momma had died.

I had been at my mother’s beside and watched the gleam of life in her eyes disappear. The breath of life had been exhaled quietly for a final time.

I was truly alone.

The End Of The World meant nothing.

I had a front row seat at My Own Personal Chaos.

To me, The End Of The World happened Friday, June 11, 2004.

Floodlights didn’t flash on. News media vans didn’t roll up on scene and bust out their crews and cameras. Military helicopters didn’t land to secure the area and begin to set up a perimeter to get help to the suffering and hold back the looters. Humanitarian agencies didn’t respond in tractor trailer trucks and vans to set up portable soup kitchens to help the hungry and begin compiling lists of the missing.

Former President Ronald Reagan had died a few days before, thus, the American, Missouri and Springfield flags were still at half mast. I liked Reagan. Today, though, I decided the half-mast flags acknowledged Momma’s reassignment from The Real World.

Momma’s boy

My wife and cousin were at the hospital, by my side, but, at this moment, my body sat in a chair at a table and my emotions lashed out at the Universe to question and curse any entity that remotely resembled higher intelligence.

I am a Momma’s boy. I always have been. I still am.

The pain was my Ultimate Mentor had departed.

Higher Headquarters had issued the orders for her Eternal Permanent Change Of Station. She had no choice, but to comply.

Momma had earned her Earth Retirement Ceremony.

Death Anniversary

In the Republic of the Philippines, there is a custom that is not practiced in the United States.

On the Anniversary of the Death Of A Loved One. You prepare a plate of food and sit either at the table or on a family altar. You sit a favorite drink by the plate. If the person was a smoker you put an unlit cigarette in an ashtray. The place stays undisturbed until 6 pm Then, a person shows up to recite some vocal prayers to the Universe.

Once the Professional Pray Person (I don’t know the correct name) recites the vocal prayers, then, they leave. The family then decides to let someone eat the food on the plate or to let it remain until the next morning. (Naturally, in the United States, there would be all these health concerns of leaving the food out – but, the point is not necessarily to eat the food, but to make a spiritual offering and to allow the family to come together to remember the Loved One.)

Death Anniversary - A family observance to remember a Loved One on the anniversary of the day of their death in the Republic of the Philippines. I adopted and adapted the ceremony for an annual remembrance of my mother. Photo taken June 11, 2011 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

If a family member is a smoker, then, he or she smokes the cigarette. If there are no smokers in the family, then, the unlit cigarette is lit and placed in the ash tray to naturally burn and someone watches to make sure no embers land outside the ashtray and start an unintentional fire.

The Death Anniversary Ceremony, I am told occurs repeatedly without fail every year for at least ten years.

Bus Stop In The Twilight Zone

Moments after my Mother’s Death, I stood alone in The Twilight Zone of my mind. My body knew that necessary and official tasks had to be completed, but when The World Ends, who cares about dotting an I or crossing a t ?

The Major Concerns Of Daily Life, in an instant, had become insignificant.

Since I was big enough to appreciate reality – my momma had always been here. She was The Beacon Against The Universal Injustices In The Nights Of Humankind. No issue had ever been too small or too big for momma to appear in her battle armor and beat back the insanity of daily life. To say, she was my Rock is to bestow the highest compliment on one of the most common elements of nature.

Naturally, I had to appear to function in the so-called Real World around me. An Emotional Zombie is simply a Robotic Mannequin that moves through the World Of Men And Women to carry out the expected functions and perhaps someday return to Life as a human. I became the Zombie, who could function enough to handle all the asinine legal matters at hand.

I stood in the bus station of my Twilight Zone.

None of the activities going on around me, concerned me in the least. If Charon, the River Styx Boatman, had been dressed in a bus driver’s uniform taking tickets I would not of cared.

Arrivals and Departures did not matter. I stood in the middle of my mental bus stop and let life go on around me. At some point, I would have to walk out one of the doors, but for now, I stood in my mind and let Riders Of The Real World catch their buses along their roads of Life.

The Longest Day Of My Entire Life seemed to last for millennium

American Grief Counseling

I’m sure the experts like to think they have answers for everything – they don’t.

Death is still The Universal Mystery That Is The Sole Property Of A Higher Realm.

I know the chaplain had his job to do. I did appreciate his sincere effort.

I had psychology classes in college, so I know all the educational gobbledygook, brouhaha, pig Latin jargon rhetoric and professional terms that go with A Major Life Changing Event.

What the Freud types don’t realize is sometimes in Life your Soul become intertwined with another human being and there is no way to acknowledge the person’s passing without realizing that a piece of your Soul is no longer in the Real World.

Obviously, the intent of Grief Counseling is to help keep Survivors in The Real World.

Naturally, bills still need to be paid, the real occupation has to be performed for anyone to keep their job and family members in the Real World have to know that some part of you is still attached to The Real World. It is all nice and logical. But, that day all of the nice logic meant nothing.

I have no doubt that Grief Counseling does work for some people. This article is not intended to Declare War on Medical Authorities and Psychiatrists. In the Legions Of Humanity, there are those of us, who seek more than a medical diagnosis, traditional cliches, and want a personal understanding that might defy the logic and rationale of The Real World.

When did Death ever sign a document to play by the rules of

The Real World Of Humankind ?

A Candle To Light Your Way

The intent of the article is to recognize that Death refuses to be trivialized and categorized. Death strands in front of you and demands that you look into his or her eyes and come to your own personal understanding.

Each reader Lost In Grief, should seek the help of family, friends, loved ones and if need be, the professional medical community. My article states the traditional approaches did not work for me. I had to find my own way through the darkness. If you feel as helpless as I did, then, perhaps, my article will be the candle you can use to light your way.

The Dumbest Grief Statement Of All Creation —

The Dumbest Of All Statements To Make To Someone In Grief Is: “You have to go on.”

Naturally, people are trying to comfort you, but, the old “You have to go on” is one of the dumbest statements of all time to fall out of the mouths of anyone. Forget the statement.

For me, it would have been better if someone would of just smiled at me, patted me on the shoulder, squeezed my hand or said, “There are no words at a time like this.”

There are no words at a time like this,” is a true statement, which maybe a cliche and states the obvious – but that statement does not insult your intelligence or belittle and trivialize the life of the lost love one.

Land Of The Living

Naturally, Psychiatrists Of The Universe should have been happy – because in time, I did appear to Return To The Land Of The Living. But, I did it without, “Letting Go.”

All the so-called “experts,” with their framed sheepskins and years of professional experience always seem to parrot “Let Go.”

All the psychiatrists like politicians always forget One Distinctive Quality Of Human Nature – Every Individual Is Just That An Individual – and Generic Sugar Pills For The Masses Never Works For The Individual. I didn’t need a Placebo. I needed an Answer.

My Mother was too significant a force in my personal life to ever “Let Go.”

My Own Path In The Grief

Christians would have cardiacs because you are suppose to realize that someday something about being with your loved ones at some far off time in the future comes about. It is nice that some people can find comfort in their religions.

But, I’ve always Dissected Religions and could only come up with my own Spiritual Beliefs, so the standard religious cliches fell on my deaf ears. I tried to be respectful to the hospital chaplain and nodded politely. I appreciated his efforts. But, I knew I had to find my own path in the grief.

Ancestor Worship

In the Pacific, some cultures have customs of Ancestor Worship, that respects and recognizes the sacrifices of family members who lived before.

My personal method of dealing with Being Left Behind is a combination of techniques that I have accumulated from my experiences in life, researching books and surfing the Internet. In a Life Changing Moment – all ideas were on the table in my mind.

Vision Quest

My personal understanding of a Vision Quest means that it is a journey only you, the individual can take. Only you can find the answers you seek. This would not be a Real World ritual sit out in the boondocks that required physical survival as well as spiritual insight. This would be a personal Vision Quest in The Real World that would reach inside my Mind and examine the needs of my Soul.

Critics And Skeptics Be Damned!

In dealing with my personal grief, I pulled out all the stops.

If I could of stood in a Great Marble Hall In The Depths Of The Universe and stood before God Almighty and Satan and asked, “Why?”

It would have been enough to have an answer and risk whatever punishment would of come from my personal audacity and arrogance to have the strength to ask such a face to face question of the two most powerful entities in the Universe.

I might not find the answer. But, I had to arrive at some level of understanding for Life to continue to make any sort of sense. All types of information would be looked at and examined. My Mind and Soul needed something other than cliches, fairy tales and wishful thinking.

I knew I would not find any detailed commentaries of dead people who had come back and done in depth interviews. I had to find some type of information that would speak to my Mind and Soul and say, “Relax. There is a Method to the Madness of Life.”

The issue was not a Quest For Self Discovery – I know Who I Am. The issue was not Fear Of My Own Mortality. The issue was Life Beyond The Personal Grief – I demanded a clue that Momma’s Life did not end in a hospital bed.

I had to find some type of information that would give me the peace of mind to understand and believe that Life is not just A Flashbulb Flash In A Universal Night.

All ideas were on the table. No idea was too ludicrous. Whatever works – works. Critics and Skeptics be damned!

Religion deals with The Supernatural, or as people in the late 20th Century preferred the more scientific sounding term, The Paranormal. I tried to find answers – not cliches – not theatrics – not theories: Answers.

Born a Scorpio, the Universe had hardwired my appetite for Mystery and The Unknown and programmed my Curiosity into my first breath.

No Concrete Answer.

Wake Up The Old Gods And Goddesses!

But, there were ideas and techniques that helped me.

The traditional interpretation of God, Jehovah, or Allah is a single supreme male entity, who sits high above humanity and looks down upon the industrious ant-like mortals. I have never believed that God was simply an Immortal Kid With An Ant Farm or An Immortal Scientist Obsessed By His Collections Of Lab Rats Locked In The Perpetual Maze.

I’ve been exposed enough to modern religions to know that they come up short. The only current religion that ever held any interest to me is the Buddhist. But, I was not on a quest of Self-Enlightenment. I wanted some tangible assurance that Momma was in an Afterlife.

I appreciate anthropologists.

Humankind has existed for Millennium. Current Society usually shrugs off the contributions of Ancient Humans like a cold, rain through a leaky umbrella. But, the people who lived before left us had a wealth of knowledge from science and mathematics to funeral customs and recopies for beer and pharmaceuticals.

Ancient Men and Ancient Women survived droughts, floods, wars, and plagues in their daily lives so they had to be doing something right. Did they have any insights into an Afterlife?

I’ve always admired Native American cultures and Ancient Egypt, so I did review their beliefs.

Magick is usually seen as an entertaining pastime for children. You take a kid to a local magic show or they watch a magic movie about beings wielding wands and searching for magic cups. Society likes to ignore that some icons of science had an interest in different approaches to knowledge and understanding.

Thus, I could flip through my magick books or surf the Internet and study up on Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, Samuel Mathers and others for indications of any revelations of an Afterlife.

Ancient scientists, philosophers, doctors, astrologers, mathematicians sought answers and guidance – these people might have been in their imaginations or maybe they did go beyond the traditional confines of the Real World, but they had ideas of Magick that reveals a Faith beyond The Real World.

In 2011, people usually snicker at The Old Gods And Goddesses Of Mythology. One distinct advantage of the Old Gods and Goddesses – they were “hands on” with mortals. They had Real World issues, even on Mount Olympus, in Valhalla, in Asgard or Shangri-La. They had dysfunctional families and they lived like mortals.

Wake Up The Old Gods And Goddesses !

If you take away their bath robes, give them shaves, haircuts and send them to tailors for business suits, denim jeans and cocktail dresses – then, some of the Ancient Greek, Roman, Norse mythology suggests that an entity can relate to us mere mortals of earth.

The concepts of Wicca as a Nature religion suggests, as I understand, looking outside oneself into the Universe. The rituals serve to focus the mind to seek guidance beyond the Real World.

I accepted some of the ideas and rejected a lot. My quest was not to find a personal religion. Nor, was it to adopt a Personal Dogma Of Spiritual Beliefs. I wanted more tangible evidence of an Afterlife.

Spiritual Research years before had suggested: I give God a partner – Goddess. No one – not even a God should ever be truly alone in any exsistence called Life.

Work The Grief – Find Your Answer

After the funeral, I had time to devote to this Afterlife Quest. Whenever it felt as though I was strolling into my Twilight Zone Bus Stop, I knew I should pick up a book or surf the Internet to find some information. Working The Grief in The Real World is a personal issue, that requires you to put one foot in front of the other.

On a day to day basis, If I’m walking down a city street or through a field and want to talk to Momma, then, I do.

If I want to put together some personal ritual to practice across the road in the pasture to attempt to enhance communication – I do.

I realize my mother’s physical presence is gone from The Real World.

Life Can’t Be Pointless !

Life can’t be pointless. I have always rejected the notion that people come into this life to work like work horses, raise children and then simply die and disappear.

Lucky people leave tales of their lives as authors of novels or can be found in history books. By the late 20th Century, most people were fortunate to be recognized with an Obituary in a newspaper.

But, I believe the overall intent of a Human Life does not end at a Cemetery Headstone or a Funeral Urn.

Find Your Own Path In Grief

Society teaches people to bury their deceased loved one and then to get back on The Gerbil Wheel Of Life. After all, your absence is bound to affect the economic output of the Universal Work Force.

Nonetheless, as a human, you need time to live in your grief. If Society’s theories work, then, use them.

If you have to find your own path – then, find your own path.

No matter how Society At Large attempt to generalize the individual human life – the Universe realizes each individual is unique and makes their contribution in their own way.

Loved Ones will try to help. But, you live in your skin. You have to find your answer.

If you look for information or a path outside of what Society At Large considers – “normal” – be careful about talking to people about it. We all have different experiences in Life and people who profess open minds will sometimes seem confused, dumbfounded, skeptical, or, “at a loss for words.”

Loved Ones can provide Emotional Support. But, Mental Support, my definition, means you climb inside your head and look around. Of course, if you believe in professional counselors or psychiatrists, then, seek them out.

If you feel it is a personal journey that only you can make, then, do so, but do not retreat from The Real World or Loved Ones.

In the Practical, Logical, Rationale Real World, no one really understands the individual who feels as though the Universe has turned against you and brought Death to someone you do not want to leave your life.

Thus, whether you decide to Let Go of your Loved One or wish to keep their presence within arm’s reach the rest of your life – it is your decision.

Your Own Afterlife Procedures

If you wish to keep the Spiritual Presence of your Loved One near, then, you will have to come up with your own procedures.

I did not find any guarantees of an Afterlife. But, my gut instinct tells me there is one. Religion would call the instinct: Faith.

The idea of stepping, “Into The Light,” is poetic and provides for easy special effects on television. I can believe we step or pass into another dimension, but, I need to believe that I can send thoughts and feelings to that dimension.

I need to believe Loved Ones in that dimension can sense, feel, watch and find a way to send back love and guidance.

“Rest In Peace” on headstones to me, means beyond the reach of politicians, bureaucrats, power companies, cell phone services, telemarketers, satellite carriers and others who complicated our daily lives. But, I also believe, RIP means I can be with my Loved Ones in whatever dimension of Time and Space.

I will stand at a Cemetery Headstone and talk.

I see the Cemetery Headstone as A Supernatural Computer Terminal In The Real World. You speak your mind and believe that your words are being saved into a Universal Email that goes to the Person’s Spirit.

My gut instinct tells me Human Life is more than A Match Flame That Dances Briefly Against A Universal Breeze – each life has meaning that transcends the physical body – and, I believe, lives on.

More importantly, I do not accept my Mother’s Spiritual Presence vanished without leaving a Universal Call Forwarding Procedure or a Universal Email Address to maintain surveillance, communication, or the oldest of all procedures: – A Mother’s Love.

My Death Anniversary Ceremony

Saturday, June 11, 2011 – This morning, Momma was not sitting at the kitchen table with her cup of coffee and her cigarette burning in the ash tray.

But, tonight at 6 pm, I can sit a cup of hot coffee on the table. I can light a cigarette and place in the ash tray. I can even light a candle and place in a holder by her coffee cup. I don’t have the Filipino Professional Pray Person to call on for guidance. I can sit look at the area and think my thoughts or open my mouth and speak.

Momma will not magickally step from the ethers and sit in the chair to talk, drink her coffee and smoke her cigarette.

But, I can sit across the table for a moment and look at the empty chair. I can smile and remember, the countless times she passed on her advice without me asking for it I can sense those numerous times in childhood and adulthood that Momma “came to my rescue” and saved me from myself or reminded me of ways to avoid similar traps in the future.

Pity The Poor Psychiatrist

Pity the Poor Psychiatrist, who “Lets Go.” Do psychiatrists really believe that cliche ? Do they parrot, “Let Go,” because it is part of the accepted training ?

In my country boy opinion, Only a Fool Lets Go A Loved One.

Who would undergo Open Heart Surgery and ask a surgeon to cut away half your heart to “let go” a loved one. You accept the Emotional Sword Slash Into Your Heart and realize that you must live with the wound.

I reject that “Time Heals All Wounds” – it is a tired cliche, best left with dinosaur bones.

You realize that you must “Solider On In Life.”

For me, I had to find a technique or belief that would allow me to get out of bed each morning and step back into the petty cares of the insanity of The Real World. For now, I remain engaged in The Flow Of Life In This World.

In the brief moments of the Annual Death Anniversary Observance for me, Momma is alive again in the Real World.

Momma’s presence may only be in my Mind’s Eye, but she is Wonder Woman, Super Girl, Mother Teresa and The Virgin Mary all enshrined in the vision of my mother. She may only speak through a sensation of emotions in my mind, but the awareness of her presence somewhere in the Universe is all I need to know that I am not alone.

The woman who always smiled at my accomplishments and reminded me, “Don’t brag son.Noonelikes a braggart.” I never had to – Momma always took pride in my accomplishments and told the details to friends, neighbors and family members.

Momma would “lecture” me on issues: How To Know If A Member Of The Opposite Sex Loves You, Find A Way To Set Aside Money For Emergencies. Learn To Save Money. Family Comes Before Anything In Life: You Can Always Find A Husband Or Wife – But, Family Is Family And Above All Else. While I didn’t always listen, when I should of; momma’s advice keeps coming back in The Trump Cards Of Live – She is still Aces And Spades. And, still holds The Winning Hand.

Today, Sunday June 11, 2011, is another of Momma’s Death Anniversaries. I don’t know if my experiences will help anyone in grief.

It is not my intent to “lock horns” with the American Medical Association or to fire an opening salvo into the Legions Of Global Psychiatrists.

My country boy intent is to recognize in our rationale world of expert answers: Death Stands In Front Of The Veil And Smiles You Have To Find Your Own Way To Understand Me. I would hope that my article will help someone standing at the brink of The End Of Their World – lost in grief, will find a way to step back and find a way to recognize the personal loss and develop a way to put one foot in front of the other each day to continue their life.

For me, I will observe Momma’s Death Anniversary by adapting the Republic Of The Philippines custom to work for me. I will remember the stories and the advice that I learned from my mother, Opal M. DeLong Warren.

I am the son of the six-foot-one, Missouri brunette, who spent her life sacrificing for me.

I am still a work in progress.

But, the hillbilly wife of a Texan, had stubbornness and determination hardwired into her Soul, so she still watches and finds a way to keep in touch beyond The Real World.

A little thing like Death, is a nuisance, but not even The Great Wall is nothing more than an annoying obstacle to a Mother’s Love.

Thanks, Momma.

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