One day my mother met one of Dad’s older cousins in North Carolina. Knowing she would remember Dad’s mother (who Dad didn’t discuss and she passed when he was a teen, long before he met my mother) my mother asked the cousin what color hair she had. “Well, let’s see….” the cousin drawled “they are all dead now. Dead, dead, dead. So what color do you want her hair to have been?” That’s as much as my mother would get out of her!
Sometimes one just has to fill in the details. Take St. Joseph for example. He is mentioned very little in the bible and we’ve no idea when he passes, he simply isn’t mentioned again. Here in SMA those blanks are filled in with the belief Joseph passed in July when Jesus was 17.
For you and I, when we die we may have the opportunity to meet Mary and Jesus. For Joseph, he had to leave Mary and Jesus behind on Earth. For this reason St. Joseph is the patron saint of a happy death because his, obviously, was not.
Catholics believe Mary did not have an Earthly death and instead was lifted by Jesus and God into heaven. For the faithful here that is not near enough detail! The tradition here is the days leading up to Mary’s assumption in heaven she entered a state somewhere between sleep and a coma. During this time a sleeping Mary statue is laid out surrounded by fruit because in Colonial times SMA was surrounded by orchards.
In each piece of fruit a paper flower is placed in the color of angels, blue, pink and white (where the colors of baby nursery’s come from). Following a rosary and a party, upon departure each guest receives a piece of the fruit. Inside the paper flower is a blessing from Mary for the coming year.
Personally, I rather enjoy this expanding on the basic premise of someone, dead or alive. And for the record, my father’s mother was a ginger because in my mind otherwise I’ve no ability to explain how in my large family I’m the only one with red follicles. I apply the same logic to her brown eyes, otherwise I’m forced to believe I’m the only in the family with the dominant gene for brown eyes because, as I was told as a child, that’s what both the milk man and our pet collie had.