09:47 am - Summer's End
I know the Wheel Year says it's Summer until the Autumnal Equinox. I know the temperatures outside are still in the 90's here and that the sun still isn't setting until close to 8pm. But, the kids are going back to school, the leaves are tinged with gold and orange, and the certain something in the air says Summer's End. The Arddu is stalking. Ana is staking her claim.
And for this, I am grateful. It's been one helluva summer. I am glad to see it go. Praying early autumn carries the Blessing of Endings to the drama and crisis' which seem to have plagued my House since the start of the Gregorian Calendar Year. Oh, 2010, you have truly been a challenge. Can I please have a helping of grace and ease? A little taste to clear my pallate?
I've neglected the Gratitude List these past few days. On Monday morning, I got a call to come see my Dad immediately because he was passing through the veils. I could not go. It was Registration Day at my daughter's new school. It was one of those moments when I cursed the reality that I am a Sole Parent. There was no one to turn to who could take my daughter to Register for classes while I went to my father's deathbed. When I got past that (as if I am ever "over" it), I had to choose to tend either the living or the dying--the generation that brought me in, or the one I am responsible for raising and setting loose upon the world(s). My Father would have said, "Take care of your Beauty-Girl. The kids come first." So, that is exactly what I did.
Ten minutes before we headed out the door, the call came that my Dad had passed gently and painlessly through the Veil surrounded by all of my siblings who all laid hands on my Dad while singing "LuLu Had a Baby" which is a hysterically funny (to a fourth grader!) dirty song my Father sang as a duet with his brother at every family gathering as long as I can remember. I love that he slipped from the physical realm surrounded by his children who were both in laughter and in tears. I hate that I was not there.
I didn't tell the kids until we got back from Regristration. Held a poker face the whole time. Smiled and greeted the Teachers and HeadMaster, the classmates and their parents. Pushed the grief down and away until my responsibilities were fulfilled.
My Dad was far from perfect. And, the desire to enshrine him in memory as a Saint is strong in my siblings. I don't want to (and won't) vilify him, but I will admit he was a faulted human doing the best he knew how. What more can anyone ask of any of us? His "tools" for coping included a daily practice of having several beers in the evening while he sat in front of the television. His Will was brought to manifestation through sheer determination, a loud voice and, in the case of his children, his leather belt. I have to say that he was in his own process of evolution. He was a WWII Veteran. That generation did not really emphasize personal growth. Rather, the focus was on social responsibility. He was old enough to be my grandfather when I was born amid the first stirrings of the cultural revolution in the 1960's. Separated by one blood generation but two social generations didn't make for an easy ride for us. I pushed him toward evolution he wasn't sure he could take on. He forced me to be self-responsible in ways that, admittedly, have served me well but also left me nearly incapable of asking for help and trusting anyone to actually follow through on any offered.
I made what peace I could with my Dad while he lay incapacitated by the Alzheimer's Disease which took eight years to eat his brain away until it no longer remembered how to swallow food or even take a breath. I sang to him at his bedside and even though he never opened his eyes and was, at that point, incapable of responding verbally, he wept. I made my ammends and tried to forgive him for setting in me the complexes he did. Last night, the kids and I ate cheesecake in his honor, slicing a big peice for him. We placed his photo on the Ancestor Shrine alongside my Mom's and made coffee for them both. No matter what they liked in life, I will not serve them alcohol in death. No scotch and water for my Mom. No beer or Manhattan cocktails for my Dad.
I hope they are dancing. Wherever they are, I hope they are laughing and smiling and dressed to the nines . . . and dancing. Oh. They could dance! Real dancing. Old School--in one another's arms and moving all over the dance floor in unison with their heads held high in Pride and their eyes shining with Love for one another. And they did have much to be proud of. They raised seven children. Every one of us is self-made/self-employed. A master leather craftsman, a floral designer, an art gallery proprietor, a talented metalsmith, a hair stylist, a systems designer and a ritual artist Witch. Seven kids. Thirteen grandkids. Ten great-grandkids. We all talk to each other. We aren't intimate, but we aren't at war.
So, what am I grateful for today?
That I made some kind of peace with my Dad.
That I made the choice for my daugher who carries forth the legacy of a huge family today as she begins high school
That when I called my sister and wept, she invited us to come stay at her house because being "only one person" is, sometimes, just too damned hard.
That I carry within me the Pride of my Father and his insistence that I be self-sufficient and a responsible parent
I am grateful for the condolences of beloved chosen family
I am both grateful and disturbed that the trials of these past months have left me feeling empty and shut down
I am grateful for this glorious and seemingly bottomless bag of tricks, tools and practices that sustain me during the hard times and the periods of grace
But, Gods? Can I have that serving of grace and ease now? I sure am starved.
Papa and my daugher, Narragansett Beach, Summer 2002.
He loved the ocean. Couldn't get enough of it. I am like him in that way. As are my children. Iya! Yemoja! Your son is coming home.