Many ancient impressions live on in the genes we inherited from our parents and ancestors. These, too, need to be made conscious, lest they manifest as disease or as seemingly inexplicable urges to behave in certain ways or to pursue certain ideas.
(The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Healing with Food, Breath, and Sound;
50 is a plateau from which I survey my past and future, following which I enter my “fifties”–the decade (or shortly thereafter) that took a chunk of my relatives–including my mother, her parents, her brother, and just this past week: one of her baby sisters.
Given the overlapping of generations common to large Irish Catholic families, my Aunt Trish and I were teenagers together. When I was in Junior High, we traveled to Disney World and to the Keys. Trish shared the driving with my grandmother, while my Aunt Col and I dozed in the back seat.
I can see Trish in a phone booth on the strip in Key West. It’s raining. She’s crying. Her boyfriend is on the other end of the line. (I can’t remember if she married that one.)
Trish moved to Florida permanently decades ago, and I haven’t seen much of her since; which makes it even more unfathomable that she’s old enough to die from heart disease.
It took her mother and her brother; and brought an older sister to the brink.
Cigarettes and alcohol and weight complicated the matter for at least some; but what else is hidden there? What family burden is buried in the heart, and is there a part for me to play in freeing it?
In the book, Path of Practice, author/teacher Maya Tiwari writes about the necessity of healing the past, even the past that took place long before us.
This concept has been beyond my understanding until recently when I stumbled upon it again and again–in conversation with a friend or a health practitioner, or in in Tiwari’s book.
And yet, the prospect of uncovering what came before (let alone healing it) is daunting, particularly since my mother’s people have always seemed somewhat guarded. Protected. Fearful.
I’m not sure that I want to know what is buried there, but I also don’t want another generation to begin dying in their fifties. I have 7 siblings too; and alcohol and cigarettes continue to play a leading role in some of their lives.
I’ve decided upon a few simple steps that I formed based on suggestions by Tiwari in her book. These are practices with which I’m already familiar and perhaps they’ll gently lead the way to the more complex.
I’ll share those steps below and maybe others will make suggestions or share their own stories to help light the way… past, present & future.
1. Create an altar for the ancestors with photos, momentos and touchstones.
2. Share stories among family members about our people.
3. Read about the legacy of the Irish.
4. See what comes…