For this project we had to create a reflection, a eulogy, a video of us reading the eulogy, a sugar skull, and a skull mask in memory of a deceased loved one. I really liked having the opportunity to reflect on and learn about my grandmother, Clare Waxler. I never knew her because she died a few years before I was born, but I wish I did because she was an amazing person.
by Zack Waxler
for Clare Waxler
For this project I chose to focus on my Dad’s mother, Clare Waxler who died on 1996 from renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). She was born here in Philadelphia, and remained here for her whole life. On July 2nd, 1936 she got married to Samuel Waxler, who was a dentist in south Philadelphia, and shortly after that had four children. For most of her life after that, she was a housewife and devoted her time to raising my dad, my aunts Linda and Marilyn and my uncle Richard. She moved around Philadelphia several times during her lifetime, first she moved from her parent’s house to Samuel’s house (and dental office), then she moved to the house that my dad inherited from them, and I am currently living in. She was in the house that I am living in when she passed away.
Although I never knew her, because she died four years before I was born, I have heard a lot about her and how important she was to my family. Someone in my family described her as “the mortar that held our family together”, because when she was alive, our whole extended family was very close, and when she died the different branches of our family started seeing each other a lot less. My parents always say that they wish I could have met her when she was alive, and that she would have loved to have met my sister and I before she died. I wish I had met her too, because for most of my life I have only had one pair of grandparents (my grandfather (her husband) died when I was three or four, and I don’t really have any memories of him other than vague pictures in my head). She also had a very close relationship with my Dad, which still reflects in him today because of how much he praises her, he only has good things to say about her.
I created my skull and mask for her because I’ve never really learned about my grandmother in depth before, and I wanted to take this project as an opportunity to explore my family’s past. Going into the project I had only heard scattered facts and talks about her, and I was intrigued to learn more. Now that I’ve explored my family’s history, I feel like I can better understand what happened before I was born and how that connects to the present day. She was also one of the closest people to my family, because all of the other people that have died in my family only had distant or infrequent relationships with me. Since I didn’t have any mental pictures of her to model the skull and mask off of, I decided to use more meaningful items and designs. In the creation of my sugar skull and mask, I tried to emphasize how caring she was with the use of various heart shaped objects and warm colors. I also incorporated a lot of blue into the skull and mask, because she was very passionate about that color, and because she took my whole family down to the beach in North Carolina every year.
Learning about día de los muertos has helped me consider a different aspect of death that I had never really considered before. I have an unusually large family, so we experience death more frequently than other families do. When we experience death, we generally go through the same process, where we mourn, have a funeral and bury or cremate the person. Our customs are very different to the ones outlined in día de los muertos, because we generally believe that it isn’t respectful to the deceased to celebrate their passing, and that we “owe” the person the same treatment and customs that we have given everyone else in the family. Pretty much all religions and cultures that I’ve come in contact with in my surroundings seem to support this idea of mourning the dead, and I think it’s interesting that people in the United States (that I’ve seen) have this idea of sad over happy. Although I’ve grown up like this, I completely understand the meaning behind día de los muertos, and would be open to celebrating a person’s death if that is what they believe in. Personally, I would feel bad in a way if I cast a big shadow on my family and friends after I died, so in that way the tradition makes sense to me.
by Zack Waxler
for Clare Waxler
Hola damas y caballeros, yo soy Zack Waxler, el nieto del difunto. Yo no conocí Clare, porque ella murió cuatro años antes nací. Ella fue de sur filadelfia. Ella fue nacer de mil novecientos dieciocho. Su nombre fue Clara cuando ella nació y ella cambió su nombre de Clare porque ella no le gustó su nombre. Ella murió en mil novecientos noventa y seis de cáncer. Ella fue un ama de casa. Ella crió cuatro hijos con su esposo Samuel Waxler, quien murió en mil novecientos. Ella fue amado de mi todo familia. Hoy, yo soy madurar en la mismo casa de Clare. Yo soy feliz vivir en igual sitio vivió. Mis padres son triste yo nunca presenté ella porque ellos siempre hablan “ella amó hijos”. Yo soy triste también porque ella fue un especial persona. Yo deseo quedé ella. Mi vida sería muy diferente. Gracias para la posibilidad hablar y recordar Clare hoy.