Weekend Edition guest host Alison Stewart.
Today is the Dia de los Muertos — the Day of the Dead. It's a holiday traced to pre-Hispanic Mexico, when it was believed the souls of dead loved ones returned to their families once a year so their lives could be celebrated. Today, families mark the day with parades and parties. They create altars and visit cemeteries to talk to their dearly departed.
It is a very different mindset than the fear of ghosts that is so much a part of Halloween. A recent New York Times piece described how much money people spend to rid their homes of spirits rather than trying to live with them, much less inviting them in once a year for a chat.
If I could, I would talk to my late grandmother, Edna Cloreen Pride Stewart, about the election. She was born in 1899 and grew up black in North Carolina. She lived her life as a bright, fierce, opinionated woman who made awesome lady finger cake.
As a child, I was fascinated by her scrapbook, which contained a button she saved from the 1963 March on Washington. Repeatedly, I made her tell me about how she and my Aunt Lucy went to hear Dr. King.
Today I'd ask, "Grandma, do you think a black person could be elected president?" I'd ask Edna her thoughts about the possibility of a woman becoming vice president.
This Tuesday, history will be made by either Sarah Palin or Barack Obama. Edna's son, my father, says she would have believed that a black person could eventually be nominated for president, but that it wouldn't happen in her lifetime. It didn't. She died 10 years ago.
So what Edna won't see next week someone close to her might, God willing — my Aunt Lucy, with whom she went to the Washington march, is 103 years old.
Alison Stewart is the guest host of Weekend Edition Saturday.