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Granddaughter remembers during Nave Day of the Dead festival

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
Oct. 29, 2011 at 5:29 a.m.

Stephanie Olivarez, 15, a member of VISD Ballet Folklorico at East High School and Learning Community Middle School, performs the Danza de la Viejada, a folklorico dance, on Saturday to honor the deceased on Dia De Los Muertos.

Dinah Retiz's hospital scrubs honored her late grandfather who wanted to be a doctor. Manuel Retiz didn't get the chance because of family responsibilities.

"He didn't get to realize his dream of becoming a doctor, but he was a mechanic," she said.

Dinah dressed to honor her deceased grandfather in honor of Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, holiday.

The 17-year-old Victoria East High School student performed her ritualistic dance at the Nave Museum. With her painted skull mask, she bowed to place her grandfather's framed photo on display. A toy car and screwdriver lay right beside it.

The Victoria Regional Museum Association hosted its second annual Dia de Los Muertos festival for Dinah and others to celebrate the Hispanic holiday. The festivities date to the Aztec civilizations. Families pay homage by making an altar for their departed loved ones, which contain their favorite food and drinks as well as candles and skulls. There were about 300 people who attended.

Gary Hall said a common misconception with the holiday is that it's scary or ghoulish.

"It's not connected to Halloween at all," said Hall, publicity chairman for the Victoria Regional Museum Association.

At first, the festivities had a solemn undertone as people participated in the March of Remembrance, going from St. Mary's Church to the Nave Museum. Almost everyone held their photos close to their hearts.

Silence was the soundtrack of the journey. The mood became more upbeat, as family and friends embraced one another, some even began dancing.

Dinah said she's happy to dance for her grandfather's sake because he's in a better place. For many years, Manuel Retiz suffered with high-blood pressure. He had nine birth children and adopted another. He had 25 grandchildren and tried to make time for each family member.

Retiz and Dinah's special bond was talking over a game of checkers.

"He would always let me win," Dinah said.

She said Retiz taught her to respect others and not judge people by their appearances.

Dinah's mother, Dina Guzman, also shared fond memories of her father-in-law. "He was a wonderful man who treated me like his daughter," she said.

The mother-daughter duo laughed as they recalled a family trip to Tuxpan, Mexico. Guzman had told her father-in-law to remove his dentures while swimming in the ocean. He politely declined.

"I'm a good, strong man," Retiz told her. His teeth eventually washed away with the shore.

As the family dined at a restaurant favorite, a hungry Retiz couldn't eat meat. But he pleaded for a little sopita.

Retiz was born in Mexico, lived in Victoria for years, and returned to his native country. Dinah said she was able to see her grandfather two months before he died.

During the Dia de Los Muertos festival, Dinah celebrated her grandfather's life and her own; Saturday was her birthday.

"I'm just going to party all day," she said.



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