Great Aunt Lucy & my grandmother. Sisters for 95 years.
Three nights ago, my love and I were restless, searching for sleep, kicking our legs, tangling them into sheets.
Just as slumber’s crescent fell forward over us, I sat up and leaned over him.
“If my grandmother dies, would you come to her funeral?”
There is silence as he adjusts to the sudden question.
“Yes honey, I would. What makes you ask this?”
Who knows where this question has come from. All I know is I’ve been dreaming of dying elders.
We rustle it off our shoulders, and fall back into sleepless poses.
Two days ago, I am possessed with an inextinguishable need to paint Ixchel, the Mayan mother goddess.
Just as I think I have captured her with my brush, she disappears again.
Over and over, with charcoal, crayon, paint, I try to draw her out again.
She glimmers, and I paint her gold.
Then I do what I never do:
Took her and my daughter out into the backyard,
and I burned her.
A sacred, simple ceremony filled with dried mugwort and lavender.
I have no idea why I’m called to do this, but the words run through my head:
I don’t need to think about Ixchel. I need her in my life. This fire will call her to me.
Ixchel disappears in flames, and my daughter dances in the smoke,
and I smile.
It is a visible prayer,
a painting taking flight
into the heavens.
Today I note:
Today’s the day to make some big shifts, tie up loose ends, do the big things you’ve been meaning to do.
I change my name, change our mortgage, change my biz name.
We head out into the day and make it all happen.
Let go of the old. Clear way for the new.
As we drive home, my love says:
I need some things. Let’s get some groceries.
So we do. And I marvel at how life takes us at the places we need to go.
The only shopping cart lane open is tended to by a friend with onyx hair & kind eyes that know every side of life. She knows everyone in this small little town.
“I’m sorry to hear about your Aunt Lucy,” she tells me.
“Why? What happened?”
“Oh…” she says.
“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but she passed away this morning.”
In my life, I’ve been very blessed to have three elders.
My Great Aunty Lucy was (and still is) one of them.
The most ginger of fairies. The kindest of souls. The one who saw beauty wherever she went.
My sister & I convene at my grandmother’s place.
We don’t think she has been told yet.
A nurse is there visiting. They are sitting on her verandah surrounded by garden. Her nurse looks like an angel.
We sit, we make small chatter.
And then I tell my gran.
And I think my own little heart will break open.
I think about how sad I will be when my sissy & I live into our nineties and she takes off before me.
“Your sister died this morning, Granny”
I tell her.
Her eyes swell up with tears, and she pats my hand.
“Oh, I know dear. I’m sad, but I’m okay. I’m sensible like that. You can’t live forever.”
We sit and talk for a long while.
Paint her toenails glittering blue and her fingernails bright pink.
Ostara takes out the Bio-Oil and we start our weekly ritual of massaging Granny’s legs and arms.
I sing ancient songs softly.
Wishitadoyadoyadoya. Wishitadoyadoya hey!
I marvel at Ostara’s tiny little baby hands squishing at her great-grandmother’s legs.
This is how to heal.
She sorts in her purse and pulls out $20.
“Here. Go buy some ice-creams together. I want you to have some ice-cream.”
My sister and I smile at each other.
We haven’t been bought ice-creams in years.
But today, it’s important.
Before we leave, her nurse tells us her own daughter has been holding Aunty Lucy’s hand all week at the nursing home. How they’ve all been holding the space for her.
(Bless this miracle of a small town!)
And we trade stories of our favourite Aunt Lucy stories.
About how she would dance to music, and when she couldn’t dance anymore, she’d sit and sing and clap her hands perfectly in time.
How she’d forget in the depths of dementia where she was and say “Am I in Proserpine, dear? I hope I’m in Proserpine!” (That part makes me well up. Goddess Persephone, this little goddess village, is my Aunt Lucy’s birthlands and heartland. I’m so glad the answer was always “Yes. You are in Proserpine. You are home.”)
How when Chris & I would take her and Gran for drives, she would alternate between gasping at how beautiful the mountains were, and giggling over boys from their teenage years with Gran.
How she was married to her soulmate, the boy from next door, the man who would give you the shirt off his back if you complimented him on it.
How after so long of being without him, she’ll be with him again. Lucy and Fred, forever.
I am stilled by the beauty of the world,
and the way we’re not just passing through.
We’re always just here.
My Great Aunt Lucy (who by the way, would have the exact same mtDNA as me) was born from this land, and to this land she returns.
She started as a fragment of light in my great-grandmother’s womb, pulled from the earth just a mile or two east of here.
And now she’ll be a part of that beautiful piece of earth just west of here, a mile or two from where I sleep, in the land that looks over her beloved mountains.
And here is where I finish.
With love. The deepest of gratitude.
Tears at how lucky I’ve been to know this woman.
Big, oceany, tender heart at life, grief and the inbetween.
But mostly, just grateful.
As my love says:
How can we be anything but happy? Aunt Lucy is amazing. She won the lotto. She won in the way everyone wants to win. She is happy.
So here is what I finish with…
This is an Aunt-Lucy approved message.
For all of us who have been touched by the wisdom of Aunt Lucy,
and the love of the elders.
Aho, and giant sacred love,