Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My First Funeral Ritual~~~

I know Darklings, what a peculiar subject, but it's true.

I was almost 5 years old, my Grandfather was in his very late 70's this was early 1950's so almost anyone surviving that long was considered a miracle.

Grandpa had a stroke, he recovered partially from it, I was there when he had it, it was a very strong memory in my mind. Perhaps I'll talk about it another time.

But after a year Grandpa was going down hill, his heart was giving out, pneumonia finally was bringing about his end.

I remember that most of the women folk were in the kitchen, cooking food, making coffee, occasionally going into the bed room to see if Grandma or my Mother wanted anything. My Grandparents bedroom was off the dinning room, the men folk were in the garage which was a converted barn, talking about who would take care of grandma, and paying for the funeral, even about repairs.

I remember my two aunts carried trays of coffee, cream and sugar to the men.

It seemed to me that the business of dying is really women's work.

I had wandered into the living room because I was fascinated by the single candle that was burning there.

The front of the house living room, entrance hall, dinning room was dark no lights, the bedroom that my Grandpa was in was dimly lit, it was night.

But in the living room on a table right up next to the windows facing the street was a window high table, it had on it one single large candle, this candle was in a tall clear glass jar that had raised crosses on it, I have it to this vary day.

The candle was lit and the curtains and drapes were pulled back away from the window so that anyone passing by could see it from the street.

Being barely 5 years old I thought this was strange, it wasn't Halloween or Christmas or any Holiday religious or otherwise for a candle to be burning, I remember staring at it and then one of my aunts came and got me and took me into the kitchen where I had some ice cream, then she distracted me by playing a card game.

I wanted to go and see my Mother and grandmother but I was told they were busy with Grandpa, they didn't tell me he was dying, I remember my younger cousins were asleep in the other bedroom so I had no one to play with, but everyone was somber and very quiet, even I couldn't raise my voice. I thought Why? It wasn't Good Friday, which would have made perfect sense, but I did as I was told.

After a bit the door bell rang and my aunt picked me up and carried me to the entrance Hall, there I saw Mother open the door and she had a lit candle in one hand, a priest entered and Mother said something that I couldn't quiet hear, the priest blessed her and also made the sign of the cross in the entrance hall as if he was blessing the whole house.

Mother with the lit candle led the way into Grandpa's bed room with the priest right behind her, she then lit two candles that were opposite either side of a crucifix. Then my Aunt took me into the kitchen, I didn't know what was happening but later as I was older I realized that the Priest was doing the last rites or what they call the rites for the sick, Extreme Unction it is properly called.

Then after a bit I heard a cry come from my Grandpa's bedroom and Mother and the Priest brought Grandma into the kitchen she was crying, my aunts distracted made tea for her and the other went to get the men folk, but little me not know what had happened went into Grandpas' bedroom, he was lying on his back his hands on his chest he looked asleep, then I began to feel sleepy, I climbed upon the chair next to his bed and laid down next to him, he felt warm and like the scent of lavender, I knew he used lavender aftershave and I fell asleep.

When I woke the next day I was in my bed in my parents house, Mother and Dad were very serious that I thought I had done something wrong, but we went back to my Grandparents house and Grandma smiled and hugged me and said she loved me very much.

It was like there was nothing I could do wrong that day, Grandma and I went into the garden that I loved, we played with the baby chicks (she raised chickens in her yard), I teased the cat with string, and she tossed ball with me. It was like she was focusing all her thoughts on me. That night I stayed overnight with her and slept in her bed, but I saw that Grandpa wasn't there anymore I asked Grandma where he was and she said that he went with the priest to the Cemetery and he was going to stay there for a while.

I thought at that time a Cemetery was like a hospital knowing that Grandpa was ill, it wasn't until they took me to the funeral parlor that evening that I saw Grandpa in his coffin in his good blue suit. It was then I began to understand death, because more than once we had buried a pet gold fish and a pet canary, but this time it was to an adult.

The next day I had a lot of questions and Mother answered them as best as she could to a young child. I was very quiet that day, Dad had gone a bought a new coloring book for me and it was like it was O.K. for me to play with that, so I colored pictures all that day, then it was back to the funeral parlor, in my Sunday dress, hat and coat, that was my first Rosary, afterwards we went to Grandma's house and many people came by and were saying they would see us the next day.

That day it was in my other Sunday Dress, back to the funeral parlor, where we just sat and then went pass grandpa's coffin, then we waited outside, my Uncles on either side of Grandma who looked very sad, then we went to the Church were I heard my first funeral mass, all the incense, the blessing of the coffin, the black draperies, then back out to the cars, the men with black arm bands and white gloves, the cars being carefully lined up, lights on then the funeral stickers on the front windshield, then the slow drive to the cemetery, we were permitted to go through red lights, I looked out the car window and everyone was looking solemn, some even crossed themselves.

I thought was a strange parade that we were in. Then we entered the cemetery, such a beautiful, green and peaceful place, and all the cars moving so slowly, we stopped near a green area that had all these flowers next to an open grave, there we gathered, the priest said more prayers, the coffin bearers left their gloves on the coffin, and each of us put a flower on the coffin then we walked away.

I remember asking Mother why were we leaving Grandpa, and she said because he had come home here and this is where he needs to stay but we could come and visit any time we wanted. I remember turning my head and looking back at his coffin and the flowers and I saw a man standing next to the coffin looking at me and waived, I almost thought it was Grandpa, but even today I'm not sure.

Everyone gathered back and grandma's house, my aunts and mother making sure the food and drink was there, grandma wanted me sitting next to her on the couch, which was fine, I felt sleepy again, it had been a long morning and we were up early.

After that Grandma's dresses were darker, when her good wool beige coat wore out she stayed with her black ones. I rarely saw her in lighter colors after that day.

She was like Queen Victoria in perpetual mourning.

But after that I grew up fasinated with the funeral rituals, I always made sure I could go to one, unless I had to be in school that day. I slowly built up a collection of prayer and Momento Moi cards.

I didn't realize it but Grandpa's funeral was my first steps into the dark side.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Further Thoughts

Well Darklings,

I've decided that I'm going to post a picture of what I think an Elder Goth of the Art Deco, Corporate Goth type should look like with my posts. This won't happen all the time, but when I find a pix or image I like I'll put it up here.

I'll also include websites in the "My Favorites" section as well.

I'll be posting movies both old and new that I think are right.

I'll list music, books, television programs etc as well.

Even things that I enjoy. Sometimes it will be about my moods or my frustrations.

Just relax, enjoy the thoughts, sometimes dark, sometimes light, sometimes maudlin, remember Darklings I am over 60 years old, I've already got one foot in the grave and the other on the banana peel, but watch out I just might out live you all.

A New Style of Goth?~~~~

First off there is something that a lot of young people in the Goth scene seem to disagree on---- They disagree on who is Goth and who is not.

Of course there are the Posers, those who dress in black, with black nail polish, black lipstick, dyed hair and say they are into a certain band or bands.

But there are a number of older Goths who really define Goth as just understanding that nothing in life is a certainty----we do die, but like the “Days of the Dead” we laugh at it, and also understand it.

We celebrate it in a way, we embrace the night side of life, therefore it is important to enjoy life, but embrace the finiteness of it and its dark side, without going into the abyss.

When I was a “Baby Bat” or “Baby Goth” in the late 1950’s I and my Mother enjoyed going to cemeteries and looking at tombstones, as a matter of fact, when we were putting flowers on the graves of our loved ones, we’d look at the nearby graves of our ‘neighbors’, sometimes even clearing away old dead flowers, noticing what graves were being taken care of and which one’s weren’t, we’d even notice if their was a new date of death or a new name.

More than once my Mother would say “Oh, Oh they lost their (son, mother, husband, daughter) and she would look the grave over and say a prayer. Going to the cemetery was visiting our “dead neighbors”, we may not know them, but sometimes it felt like family and yes, if we were there for a long time cleaning graves and such, we packed picnic lunches and eat there, of course it was a long walk to the bathrooms for the adults if we had to use them, sometimes several of the family members would use the car to get there and then come back.

I didn’t realize it but my Grandmother, who was born in 1890, was Goth, living a Goth life style but she and many like her didn’t flaunt it, they lived it differently. She never wore bright colors, especially after Grandpa died, it was always dark colored dresses, either dark blue or black with a dark print, she had three hats, two were straw, one was a black straw with dark purple flowers the other was a beige straw with lavender flowers, mourning and half mourning. The remaining hat was black wool with a wide brim.

She had two coats, the very good black coat for formal occasions, and the other good black coat for everyday use. Even her sweaters were black or dark blue. And always black shoes with lace ups.

The rooms were always dark, except for the kitchen; she’d always say “We need the light to see if the meat is done.” And her stove was an old Buck Stove, that you would see in a Victorian home, she used it until 10 years before she died, then my know it all Uncle had it replaced, the kitchen never felt the same again.

Nothing was ever replaced unless it had to be replaced. It was hard to get anything new into her house unless it was a mattress, sheets or towels, the one break through was the Television set, and it was years before it was replaced and only because the picture tube finally burnt out.

Music only the classical music stations or the Catholic Hour, especially the Rosary Hour, every evening at Sundown, 6 p.m. on the dot.

But that’s not to say we didn’t have fun, we did, playing board games, card games, dominos, puzzles, the puzzles were the best because we could talk about things.

Going to the Funerals was an occasion, there was always someone dying or dead as the case maybe, I got to be a connoisseur of funeral parlors, flower arrangements, churches funerals services, cemeteries, headstones, prayer cards, etiquette for funerals, all of that.

Then back to my Grandmother’s place to critic the funeral service from casket to final prayer.

In a way we were like that Adams Family, but we looked normal but just had this “dark side” outlook on life. And if that is not being Goth then I don’t know what is.

It’s more than music; it is a life outlook, which a lot of young people simply don’t know. Or think they know but really they don’t.

There is one style of Goth that I have not seen, maybe I’m the first to create it or maybe they are out there and thought they had to be Victorian or romantic.

This style Goth is what I call in reference to the furniture style either Art Deco or Art Modern. Some people may refer to them as Corporate Goth, but it goes beyond that.

The films they like are horror films, spy films, Hitchcock or the German noir films of the silent era, and the same genre from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, especially the film noir and Val Luton films---eventually I’ll create a list.

The music they like can be jazz, blues from the 20’s to early 50’s, some big band, classical as well, Gregorian chant eventually I’ll put together a list.

They will attend art galleries, museums, opera, ballet, concerts, and film revivals, explore antique shops, historical locations and homes, auctions, and for fun Flea Markets; they will pretty much shun the extreme modern artists, and love Tamara De Lempika.

They will read spy novels, murder mysteries, history, literature, be familiar with the era of the 20’ through the 1950’s in history, literature, art, fashion etc. even old funeral practices.

Be well educated, dress classy, with makeup and hair from the time frame of the 20’s to the 50’s without looking overdone, always look well put together without it looking fussy, always courteous, refrain from using obscenities, and look neat even at Burger King.

They maybe members of a local Art Deco Society, or Film Society, perhaps a Historic Preservation Society or members of a Tatofile society

In terms of etiquette they will follow Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt but knowing the 21st century mores, but will honor the laws, especially in cell phone and black burry usage.
Be friendly, not aloof but reticent.

The idea is by their presence and example to make and encourage people of all ages to come up to your level not you go down to theirs, this will wake up young people to start dressing better, it may take time but one needs to be a good example.

They will not be flustered by anything, nor allow anything to irritate them, it simply is not done.

They distain extreme vulgarity and tasteless jokes, but are aware that not everyone is at their level, they will have the good manners to not look down upon those with no taste but simply not comment on it.

They can have fun and enjoy fun; they know how to laugh, sometimes to even delight in the very simple pleasures of watching butterflies, cutting out snow flakes, enjoying the expression of children who discover something for the first time.

For the Elderly Goth They KNOW that life is fleeting, that all blossomings are the beginnings of decay.

So I will continue to Explore this Style of Goth, incorporating the fact that they are aging and Elderly, but it will be something for the yearlings aka Baby Bats to learn from.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I was Born~~~~

Hello Everybody (as she says that snidely),

I'm Vampire Rose, an aging Goth.

What do I mean by aging?

It means I'm not 20, 30, or even 40 something years old, I'm over 60 years old, and I was a Goth (but that description wasn't around when I was growing up) when all of you were not even gleams in your Daddy's eye.

As a matter of fact many of your Daddy's were most likely gleams in their Daddy's eyes.

I was born when those pesky UFO's crashed into Roswell, New Mexico, and if that isn't an interesting beginning to my life well then I don't know what is. That year the sound barrier was broken for the first time as well, and I've been screaming ever since.

I grew up with a lot of traditions and customs that many of you would not know about in terms of mourning, dying, cemeteries, I was taught respect and manners and etiquette something that a lot of young people don't seem to have, they have no idea that "revenge is a dish best eaten cold."

In the rest of my posts of my blog diary I'll be talking about events and things that I experienced and grew up with. I'll talk about being strange without being strange, and then finally discovering that all along I was a goth, during the time Buddy Holly and Bill Hailey was "Rocking around the clock" and Elvis was swiveling his hips to "Hound Dog" and me, I was into Bach's "Toccata and Fugue" and enjoying visits to cemeteries and graveyards.

While growing up I got to be quite a connoisseur of Mortuaries and funeral rites.

So all you late comers you can enjoy reading my open diary and discover what you've been doing ain't new.