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First Person: Remembering And Honoring Departed Loved Ones On Dia De Los Muertos

October 31, 2018 1:46 p.m.

First Person: Remembering And Honoring Departed Loved Ones On Dia De Los Muertos


Pita Verdin, Sherman Heights resident

Related Story: First Person: Remembering And Honoring Departed Loved Ones On Dia De Los Muertos


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh the Mexican Dia de los Muertos tradition is becoming more common throughout the U.S. and around San Diego. One of the longest running celebrations takes place in the Sherman Heights neighborhood. For the last 24 years neighbors come together every October to decorate altars and honor their loved ones. As part of our First Person series we hear from one Sherman Heights resident who's been building an altar in her father's memory for nearly 20 years.

For a lot of people they're getting a little bit more and finally understand it's not a celebration of death. You know it's actually an honoring of of a departed life and the way that we do a beautiful way of honoring them. Hello my name is Peter Everdeen and I live in a historic neighborhood in San Diego called Tremont heights. 9.

To Sherman Heights. We had a big river revitalization movement happening and we were we formed a group called the Shurmur Heights neighborhood Cultural Council. And with the commission for arts and culture they encouraged us to find an event or something we could share with the with Diego. And the idea came up with expanding the day of the dead to our home so the very first time I had the opportunity to do an altar at our home.

I just you know I was so happy just to learn more about it and the way that it was celebrated. Deep down Mohawk I when my dad was from. So it just you know the first time asking why hasn't helped me. It was it was just such a beautiful experience and not not knowing what exactly to do or not to do. But at the at the end you know it is really just remembering in a loving way.

Those that have left the altar to our home is primarily dedicated to my father.

The culture itself is basically a big arch of flowers. We put this in pets which are flowers everywhere which are the marigolds the beautiful orange very fragrant flowers.

They reminisce from when I read the scent of bones at the top of the altar because is usually different tiers with photos of people that have passed away at the very top as my dad. So we put in we put lots of sugar skulls we put on them muerto which is wonderful really delicious bread that we would buy some for us and then we buy some for the altar. So it's actually a process of a couple of days before we actually started. We get every single trinket that we have from my dad.

We have a brick that we purchased for Petco Park since he passed away and in 98 and he was an avid potters fan. So we have a break with his name. It's as true Padres fan. So we put we put his baseball cap and we put some beer we put some of the things he loved like green tamales made from Osaka because that's where he was originally from.

So we celebrate our other family members and we put little things just to remember them the things that they love to eat and or to drink.

And you know several little pieces that remind us of I mean dad's name was Felipe batteries.

And you know just being the youngest of three three girls I guess they gave up on having a boy. So I was my dad's little sidekick.

So we were very little. You know how old I was I must been six or seven. It took us down on a trip to a haka and when we went to Mexico City to take the train I was really afraid of the of the train when the doors opened so many people went out and came in. You know I closed it seemed to me that it closed almost on them. So one of the times we had to we had to get out of the train. I was just afraid the door was open and my dad just was trying to get in.

OK I got you. I was so afraid. So my dad put his body between that doors and. You know he asked me to get out. And you know just knowing always just always had my back you always remember him even if it's 20 years you know he's still very close in our heart and in our minds and our everyday life where we miss him and we're very grateful that we had a really wonderful loving strong loyal protective father. And you know we want him to know that he will always be loved and remembered because he lives in our hearts.

Day of is one of those events where you once you see it when you once you live it you really realize it. You incorporate in your life you become part of you. Honoring them is part of us not just showing all of our family and remembering their all their life but also something very internal very very close that keeps my family together and that that in that remembering my dad. So it actually is for them to honor them. But it's very very much also for as. It really does bring the family together again just in memory of that strong man who was made that.

This first person feature was produced by Marissa Cabrera outdoor altars are on view around the Schurman Heights neighborhood. Now through November 2nd information about the upcoming Dia de los Muertos procession in Sherman Heights can be found on our Web site K.P. dot org.