In my 55th year I’m finally granted the experience of orphanhood. Dad died last year then, almost to the day, mum went off her food and within 6 weeks was lying in a box in the ground just above him.After years of illness dad’s death had been a relief but mum had been fit and well all of her life so although she was 92 it is still shocking!
I had had that ‘special’ bond that sissy boys can have with their mums- when I was a kid it was me she got to blow-dry her hair and not my sister! Thankfully life moved us on and, whilst I grew up, came out and developed adult-to-adult emotional relationships she granted the space for this and committed to her relationship with that grumpy, patriarchal, emotionally wounded man: my difficult to love father.
After dad died there was the promise of rekindling our closeness. In that final year we spent weekends together doing crosswords, watching TV and just hanging out. We flew to Switzerland for a holiday. We spent last Christmas together. However the plans to get her down to Brighton and for shopping trips to London, were all snatched away.
In what seemed like no time at all, she went from being a totally independent, intelligent and capable woman to an anaemic husk of a being, struggling to breathe. She’d been offered surgery to bypass the tumor in her stomach but she quickly made up her mind to reject this and opted to die at home in the company of her children. We watched helplessly as she rapidly slipped away.
As a solitary Pagan Taoist Ex-Catholic Faerie I’d felt extremely unsupported spiritually when my father had died. To me, the roman catholic funeral ceremony seemed stuffed with empty, meaningless, liturgical mumbo-jumbo. When I heard that mum had gone off her food, I instinctively ordered Starhawk’s book ‘The Pagan Book of Living and Dying’ anticipating developing my own closing ritual. Sadly, things moved too quickly and, once again the default ritual clicked into place. This time however I had the support of a special Faerie friend (Flute) who offered to help my mother’s spirit to pass. At the moment of my mother’s death I texted Flute who did the necessary.
I now have a ball of soil from my mother’s grave (Earth), a lock of her hair (Air) and the paper tissue I used to dry the tears I wept at her funeral (Water). I’m going to plant these items in the roots of a Flowering Cherry Tree. My ritual will celebrate the life and vitality which is now occasioned by their death.
As a pot plant may feel both contained yet restrained by its pot, I too have been contained yet restrained by my loving parents. Now the pot is broken. It is time for my roots to feed on the abundant richness of the Earth. Thank-you and RIP Kath and Harry.