If I were to build an Ancestor Shrine to you, I would start with only one photograph. You would have to be very young. Long before you had the blue Ford pick-up truck that belched sand pellets from its tires as you drove hard on the dirt roads around our house. I asked Aunt Tildy what your favorite food was: carrot cake.
If I were to build an Ancestor Shrine to forgive you, I would buy you a piece of carrot cake from Helen Bernhard’s Bakery on 16th Street. They are still so busy that customers stand in line with tapered tickets in hand. I’d have to wait in line. I’d have to wait for you again.
I would leave the cake offering, still held in its white wax paper, on the shrine. I would leave the cake offering in front of your young portrait that I keep covered with an opalescent scarf so I can choose when to see you. Then I guess I would have to open you up.
If I were to build an Ancestor Shrine, I would open you up. I would close my eyes, breathe deep, feel the red dirt beneath me, spread my arms wide open, and pray for us both: “May you be happy, joyous, and free”. “May I be happy joyous, and free.”
If I did this long enough, I could learn to bake carrot cake.