|Ivette Hernández - La Santa Muerte - Hosta 'La Muerte'|
In 1952 I was 10 years old in Buenos Aires and because I was going to an American school we celebrated Halloween. I dressed up as Hopalong Cassidy. I had no idea what the celebration was all about.
My shock related to Halloween happened in Mexico City in 1973. The doorbell rang. At the door were two very dirty looking and poor little boys. They asked me, “Danos nuestro jaloyn.” They wanted money.
It was then that I began to think of the concept of what Halloween was to this alien. I came to conclusion, since we were living in Mexico and on November el Día de los Muertos is celebrated all over Mexico that Halloween was a celebration which by then made people, in the US and Canada forget their fear of death and accept fear of ghost, ghouls and monsters. The origins of the original European All Hallows’ Eve, was almost forgotten.
My relationship with death began when I was 8 and for reasons I then did not know my mother took me to a velorio ( a wake next door). Our neighbour’s son on a Vespa had hit a train at a crossing. His face was reconstituted with bandages. For many years after, death and winning the lottery is what my neighbours experienced but did not exist for me.
In 1966 when I commenced my conscription in the Argentine Navy because if was new I was sent on a hot summer afternoon to stand guard next to the open casket of a non-commissioned officer I had never met. This was at the Cementerio La Chacarita. It was my first time at a cemetery and after a few hours I was swooning in the heat and the smell of the flowers.
It was also in Argentina on July 26, 1952 that we were bombarded with the news of the death of Eva Duarte de Perón. They had her casket in an elaborate church chapel called a capilla ardiente (burning chapel) and it was then that I was exposed to classical mortuary music, especially Chopin’s. For many years after that day at 20:25 all radio stations interrupted their programming with, “Son las 20:25 hora en que la Jefa Espiritual de la Nacíon asumió la inmortalidad,” or "20:25 when the spiritual leader of our nation became immortal.”
My father died in 1967 and he had enough money in his pocket to pay for a modest funeral. As a conscript I did not have any.
In 1972 my
mother breathed her last on her bed in the presence of Rosemary and me. We were
so broke that her parents paid for the funeral. It seems that after that, my Rosemary and shared something quite intimate which was to witness death close. That I witnessed hers is something I will never overcome.
With all those years in Mexico death fascinated me and I understood the taciturn approach of Mexicans for the inevitable.
that death of my Rosemary on December 9, 2020 on my mind as if it were only
yesterday, I have turned off all the lights in my duplex this Halloween where children have
to beware of razor blades in apples.I simply do not Snicker.
there is a little smile as Rosemary would hand out the candy on Halloween as I
cowered upstairs in our room avoiding all the noise.She thought this was fun. Both of us remembered those cold and rainy Halloweens in our little Burnaby home on Springer Avenue when Ale and Hilary would come in all wet with their loot.
In Mexico I would be called an “aguafiesta” it means that I throw [cold] to the party.
It is Halloween, death is in my mind but I don’t fear it.
The portrait of Ivette Hernández (born n León Guanajuato) was from an extensive project we worked on our nostalgia for Mexico. La Santa Muerte a cult to death began with the narcos in the state of Sinaloa and then spread. Some Mexican worship death and she is the patron saint