Honoring An Ancestor: My Grandfather

Today was my (late) grandfather’s birthday. He would have been 87, but he died in 1996 from a burst aneurysm. To sum everything up in a nutshell, his death plunged me into a great depression, and it’s that depression that eventually led me to Paganism and later to Odin and Freyja. (Though there were many stepping stones and what not along the way.)

I’m not the best at ancestor veneration. I have trouble connecting with those I’ve never met. Even those I have met, I prefer to keep a mental altar/shrine to them as opposed to a physical one. Though when my boyfriend and I get our own place (we move in a few weeks!) that may change as we’ll have more space available to us. As a sort of memorial though, I did a few things today in Pappaw’s (or, as I called him when I was a kid, Buddy) memory.

Photo by Raven

Photo by Raven

The first thing I did was stop by a local cemetery. Pappaw’s grave is actually too far away for me to visit (it’s in Indiana, I’m in New Jersey), but I wanted to go somewhere like that just to have a moment of silence. So I went to one of my favorite local cemeteries. There are graves here dating from the Civil War and before. The gravestones in the back of this photo are so old the engraving has been worn away.

Photo by Raven

Photo by Raven

I wandered among the graves and found this rose growing wild among some of the headstones. Pappaw’s favorite color was red, but I thought the beauty of this rose and it’s fullness was rather perfect.

Photo by Raven

Photo by Raven

While I was there this beautiful Monarch butterfly set down on a Lilac bush and let me photograph it. Butterflies (like faeries) are connected to Freyja who gets half the slain warriors (Odin gets the other half).  Butterflies, to me, are associated not only with Her but with death and change as well.

Photo by Raven Meal cooked by both me and my boyfriend

Photo by Raven

When I got home my boyfriend helped me cook one of Pappaw’s favorite meals–salmon. Pappaw loved to fish, and loved fish of all kinds. But salmon was one of his favorites. He also had a sweet tooth (with donuts being his favorite sweet) so I picked up some Oreos to have tonight before bed and during my New Moon ritual.  To drink with dinner we had (our first glasses of the season of) apple cider. Before either of us took a drink my boyfriend surprised me by raising his glass and proposing a toast to Pappaw even though he’d never met him. The gesture nearly brought me to tears.

Raven and her grandfather

This is the only picture I have of him and I together. Back then I wasn’t fond of being in front of the camera. This is also one of my favorite memories with him. It was grandparent’s day and my elementary school allowed our grandparents to come to school with us. My grandmother couldn’t make it (for one reason or another), but Pappaw made sure to show up. He was always there for me like that.

I miss you, Buddy.

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