Moon in Virgo
I asked Celia if she were afraid of dying. She replied that she was afraid of pain, that she supposed at the actual moment she would be afraid, but the thing is to get through it as quickly and easily as possible. She told me she had arranged for hospice care at the end, when she could no longer function. She showed me the phone number on her rolodex. That’s Celia, always managing the details so no one need worry or be inconvenienced.
It must have been tough for her to grow up so alone, except for the familiar company of work. The story, as I’ve gotten it in bits and pieces over the years, was that old one of unplanned senior year high school pregnancy, quickie marriage, young dad fulfills his working class family’s dreams going to college, while young mum juggles work and momhood living with disapproving in-laws happy to constantly share their grievances against her. Apparently Grandma Angie learned about birth control, in defiance of the Church, because Celia’s younger sisters, Donna and Linda, waited to be born until after Angie had gotten her college degree and teaching job, gotten her life in order. By that time Celia was old enough to be a real help around the house. She says they didn’t pressure her about good grades, didn’t even seem to notice as long as she caused no trouble and did whatever needed doing. I don’t now how harsh it really was. She talks very little of her childhood and family. It’s like she’s embarrassed to have been so worthless to the people who mattered to her. I could express my outrage that they didn’t appreciate the priceless jewel they had, but how hypocritical is that? Celia can disappear into the background so easily. She is such a magical presence that we don’t see her, just the sparkle and afterglow of her constant working without appearance of effort, making no demands. She trained herself well, finding no advantage in rancor or bitterness. Often she seems quite happy, buzzing along. Quite ethereal, like a force of wind and spirit, flowing through her moment to moment doings, she has long since made her peace with reality. I guess the idea of impending death is just one more piece of that pattern. For an avowed atheist, she exhibits an awful lot of faith.
She never argued with me about my beliefs or in any way suggested them invalid. Celia has a marvelous way of compartmentalizing “you” and “me”. She lives and believes as she does and lets everyone else do the same. I hope I am right to think I picked up that trait from her along with a few others, absorbed that underlying paradigm from its early and constant presentation. I know I don’t always express my opinions diplomatically, having picked up the habit of open, loud, display from Danny. Celia is more likely to avoid contentious topics. If they are broached, she is capable of sharply, intensely, stating her view, and moving to another topic so deftly you never notice how the conversation went from there to here. This is a subtle woman, my mother. Naturally I, like so many, have long undervalued her. Maybe that mistake has also caused me to undervalue the parts of me that are like her.
My mom and my Aunt Marie were never on easy terms. There was an unstated, subtle antipathy. Yet there was also great and obvious mutual respect, more so as time went on. Marie would admonish me to love and respect my mother, and not out of some lecture on propriety. My Aunt Marie was not a propriety respecting sort of woman. She was direct, forceful, sure of herself, a maverick and an iconoclast and proud of it. That was never Celia’s style. I don’t think she found it so much uncomfortable as mildly irritating in a way that tired and depressed her. Perhaps what Marie resented in Celia was the lack of appreciative audience, positive or negative, that she expected from those around her, including me. I was endlessly admiring of my marvelously wicked Aunt who always made me feel special and beloved. Celia never showed any jealousy of my relationship with Marie, nor do I believe she ever felt any. She was happy for me to be connecting with Danny’s sister, the only of his family we ever knew. Celia and I, we’re kind of cast out in the world on our own, unattached to other family. Yes, Ms. Purring Pandora, you are family, we three.
If the weather is nice tomorrow, we will take a drive into the country, pack a picnic, enjoy the natural splendor of the Libra New Moon aura of loveliness. Beauty isn’t something you need to believe in to feel its inspiration.
I am having to learn new rhythms for my life, a different way of being and seeing. Maybe I’m growing up, at last, at least? I am the younger generation, displacing what has come before. But I’m not displacing. I’m assimilating, becoming more. Yeah, Celia, we are women who think and self-reflect, examining our life and thoughts, studying as if we are holy texts in which real Truth is waiting to be found. Did I learn that from you? Are we learning it together from each other? I can believe for both of us that we are blessed by this chance to enhance each other.