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Category Archives: Family

Roadside Memorials

A mixture of sadness and curiosity washes over me every time I see a street corner adorned with a cross, teddy bear, and flowers. I have seen these roadside memorials throughout my life, but have never known anyone who personally created one. How did this practice begin? Who makes them? What is their function? Fortunately, Gary E.A. Saum’s folklore project, “Roadside Memorials: Material Focus of Love, Devotion, and Remembrance,” helps satisfy my curiosity.

Saum reports differing accounts for the origin of roadside memorials. One source traces it to the 1847 piling of stones tradition called descansos (resting places) during the Taos rebellion in New Mexico. Another source attributes it to a Mexican tradition of marking the death of a loved one with a pile of stones. Yet other evidence points to the centuries-old tradition in Latin American cultures where offerings to Catholic saints were placed at an altar or statue. Such an act is similar to roadside memorials whereby the “offerings” are left to memorialize the victim instead of giving thanks to saints. Therefore, the tradition “appear[s] to have started in the new world either as an imported Spanish tradition or as a tradition borrowed from the Spanish by the Indians” (Saum 257).

Centuries later, this tradition is currently found at the site of fatal car accidents. In Saum’s fieldwork, he interviewed grieving family members who have a roadside memorial. It was constructed the night of 17-year-old Eric’s death when Eric’s high school buddies nailed together a wooden cross, placed it at the spot of the accident, and the spot was quickly filled with mementos from other friends. About two months later, Eric’s mother added luminaries and pledged to light them every night to show her love and devotion for her son. Similar roadside memorials are seen throughout the U.S., Mexico and numerous other countries. Accordingly, making them is not limited to people with a certain nationality. Rather, they are made across cultures by “friends, family members, and loved ones to remember someone lost to them in a traffic fatality” (256).

For some people, roadside memorials represent a holy ground; for some, they are a location for prayer vigil. Yet, others consider them warnings against drinking and driving. As seen in Saum’s fieldwork, Eric’s mother views it as a place to show her dedication to Eric’s memory. Thus, a roadside memorial’s function is “as varied and individual as the person it commemorates” (258).

Saum’s folklore project helped me better understand the tradition of roadside memorials and especially about the people who create them. The heart-wrenching story, as told by the interviewees in Saum’s fieldwork, helped me relate to someone who would create a roadside memorial. Especially, I was touched by the mother’s unwavering dedication to light the candles every day. Overall, I can see how roadside memorials are about “love, devotion, and remembrance,” as this project is fittingly entitled.

Saum, Gary E.A. “Roadside Memorials: Material Focus of Love, Devotion, and Remembrance.” Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. By Martha Sims and Martine Stephens. 2nd ed. Logan: Utah State UP, 2011. 255-69. Print.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Family, Illness, memorial

 

I choose to remember the victims

What a sad sad day in America.  The Colorado movie massacre was a senseless tragedy.  My heart goes out to those poor victims and their friends and families.

My first reaction was probably like most people’s: shock.  Then came anger.  Who does this? (He is not a “he”, but an “it”.)

What the hell was the point?

Wait. I don’t even want to know “its” motivation – NOTHING justifies what “it” did.

Instead of focusing on “it”, who I refuse to acknowledge by name, I choose to remember the twelve victims.  They are the ones who deserve recognition and fame.  Their names should be the ones blasted out all over the internet and on the news channels.  Their lives were taken much too short, but they should be remembered.

The youngest was six.  The oldest was 51. One died on his birthday.  Several were fathers and mothers.  All were sons and daughters.  All were heroes.

Here’s a list of the victims, may they rest in peace.  The list is in alphabetical order and includes links to some of the stories about them.

  1. Jonathan Blunk, 26 years old – Jonathan Blunk’s wife talks about her family’s loss
  2. A.J. Boik, 18 years old – AJ Boik Among Those Killed In Theater Shooting 
  3. Gordon Cowden, 51 years old – At 51 Gordon Cowden was oldest of those slain in theater shooting
  4. Jessica Ghawi, 24 years old – Jessica Ghawi’s Family Wants to Focus on Victims, Not Colorado Shooter 
  5. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress, 29 years old  – Jesse Childress Died Trying to Protect Friend at “Dark Knight” Massacre
  6. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Thomas Larimer, 27 years old – Shooting victim John Larimer: Illinois sailor was youngest of five children
  7. Matt McQuinn, 27 years old –  Aurora shooting victims: Heroism and heartbreak as last moments revealed 
  8. Micayla Medek, 23 years old – Father of slaying victim Micayla Medek: ‘I lost a precious soul.’
  9. Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6 years old – Double tragedy:  Aurora shooting victim learns her daughter was killed
  10. Alex Sullivan, 27 years old – Alex Sullivan was celebrating his 27th birthday at midnight showing
  11. Alex Teves, 24 years old –   Shooting victim Alex Teves had ‘a heart of gold,’ saved girlfriend
  12. Rebecca Wingo, 32 years old –  Rebecca Wingo, mom of two, among victims kill

I choose to remember the victims.

~~ Maggie

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Family, news

 

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Travel Tip – staying connected for cheap

My adventures in Japan included walking about town in Asakusa where locals ride bikes everywhere.

Vending machines were abundant.

You could even buy BEER from vending machines. Hmmm…

Needless to say, I saw a lot of different customs.  To combat the culture shock, I was happy to stay in touch with family and friends back home.

I played Draw Something … on the bullet train en route to Hiroshima, Japan.

I introduced my host Japanese family in Toyota City, Japan…to my family back home in Michigan.  They even got a tour of my home (thanks to my daughter) and watched a YouTube video of my son’s garage band gig. How cool is that?

I kept up my blog posts, including pictures, during early jet lagged mornings and airport layovers…in Japan and later Seattle, Washington.  Writing as I went helped keep things fresh.

I exchanged texts with my teenagers in the U.S…while I was in Tokyo, Toyota City, Hiroshima and Kyoto.  I loved seeing what they were up to and they knew they could text me any time. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Hiroshima – Days 7 and 8


Toyota City was an interesting place.  While in my Japanese homestay, I felt like I was in the country side because there were many trees, gardens and nearby rice fields.  However, the town is very much a Toyota manufacturing town with buildings sprinkled throughout. There were trains, cars and buses running at all hours of the day and night, yet many people walk to work.  It was such a mixture of nature and industry. Despite that, there was a peace among the people, who smiled at you on the streets.

Day 7

After breakfast, I went with my Japanese family to watch the youngest (6th grader) play basketball at another Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Family, Teaching, travel

 

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Toyota City – Days 5 and 6

The staff at the elegant Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo was helpful and friendly. I will miss Tokyo.  It’s a happening city — very much like what I envision New York City, where I’d like to visit one day.

Saynonara Tokyo!

Day 5

Going on a ride in the Shinkansen (bullet train) was a lot like flying in a plane, except everyone must board in 60 seconds or you are left behind!

What a cool experience! We zoomed all the way to Toyota City in 2 1/2 hours; by car this would take about three times longer!

Mount Fuji was spectacular! This picture doesn’t do it justice since we were going too fast, but we could see it from our seats.  It was a bit surreal. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Family, travel, Uncategorized

 

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Domo Arigato – 6 days to go!

It’s over 6,000 miles from here to Tokyo!  As I finish getting ready for my AMAZING trip, I can’t help but think about all the Japanese families who make the 6,000 + mile trip to America AND put their kids in our schools.  Think about it.  You travel that many miles and (jet-lagged) are expected to acclimate to American culture and schools — not to Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Shih Tzu Antics


Guess who’s turning NINE?  Our littlest family member, Max!  His spunky yet calm personality keeps us smiling every day and I can’t imagine life without this little piece of heaven.

Max was the calmest of his brothers and sisters.  While they were running amok chewing ears and tails, he Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in dog, Dogs, Family, kids, Teaching

 

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