Remembering Dad, and Thoughts on Ancestor Reverence

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There are a lot of things I inherited from my dad; an odd-shaped nose, a tendency to repeat stories over and over, freckles… There are also, of course, qualities I wish I inherited from but didn’t. For example, I always wished that I had red hair, and he made gardening seem effortless.
My dad died in December of 2007. He was 82. He lived through the great depression. He quit school in 7th grade to help support his sisters, since his dad had died. His mom died soon after.

My dad was truly a southern man, embodying all the good and the bad that the label implies. But in many ways he was not stereotypical. When I was growing up, he did most of the cooking. He taught me how to sew. Once he told me that his mom made sure to teach him these things because she wanted him to be able to take care of himself no matter what. I wonder if she knew that she was going to die before he had grown? My dad didn’t put much stock in friendships, choosing instead to spend time with family, work in his garden, and tend his chickens and various other farm animals he kept though we lived in town.

When I was growing up he dabbled a lot in carpentry. I had several clubhouses. I wanted more than anything to have a tree house but he was afraid that I’d fall out of one so instead he built me a clubhouse on stilts. Instead of punishing me for swinging on the gate, he built a stand alone gate for me to swing on that pivoted all the way around.

When I was grown, I drifted away from my dad. The generation gap seemed so wide (he was 44 when I was born). I felt kind of sorry that I wasn’t closer to him toward the end of his life, but I guess that was kind of inevitable. He and my mom had divorced when I was in my early 20’s and he went on to remarry 3 or 4 more times (I really lost track). Every conversation I had with him as an adult always devolved into him talking bad about my mom. He also never took much interest in my kids. I tell myself, no one is perfect. I certainly am not. And so I do not judge him too harshly. I prefer to remember him the way he was when I was growing up. He seemed so old even then, or maybe just old-fashioned.

I was not raised in a church, but I think my parents tried to instill in me (a little bit), their version of Christian values. So for that reason, I didn’t tell my dad when I became Pagan at age 16. (I would end up telling my mom years later, but never my dad.) In the Pagan path I follow, ancestors are honored and prayed to. And I bet some people wonder how this works if your ancestors were not Pagan. I guess the assumption for some might be that we only worship the ancient ancestors. But my thoughts are that the more recent ancestors hold a special power for us because we actually had a relationship with them in this life. There is another belief that I’ve come across in the general Pagan community, that I feel the truth of, though some may deem non- politically correct… And that is that once souls cross over to the afterlife, they remember the Old Ways, regardless of what they believed in their most recent incarnation, and would not be offended in the least by our Pagan rites honoring them.

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