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October 4th, 2005

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09:41 am - The second of two very important Elizabeths
The second of two very important Elizabeths in my life died on 16th March 2000.

Elizabeth Conner Wells Moberly, in the SCA known as Mistress (Court) Baroness Catriona nicChlurain of Angels, Caid, (and I'm afraid I only heard once her name in religion, and it did not stick in my brain) died at 77 years, after a year of decreasing health. She chose to stop striving in this life, and go on to the Summerland where she would rest until ready to incarnate again (I think that's how she'd phrase it). She left behind a daughter by birth, Jeanne/Sine, and many adopted daughters and sons in the SCA (of which I was one: I refer to her as my foster-mom), and their offspring; as well as many loving friends (some of whom she had joined in marriage or handfasting; I also claim that honor) and coven sibs. In the past year she'd been under treatment for emphysema, as well as some small strokes (ISAs), and penumonia.

I was treated to a very good sermon at her funeral last Friday, wherein the priest spoke about G*d, Christianity, getting to heaven, and all those persons who've never heard of Christ, but who were created and loved by G*d. He defined the Holy Spirit as Love personified, as it were, of G*d towards us, and of us towards G*d. He did not seem to subscribe to the ide that G*d made us all perfect, but as we ARE, and that the interaction with each other was an essential part of life and growth. He ended up saying that the deceased had clearly been imbued with the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by the presence of a great number of mourners speaking so highly of her, and that we should take the gift of her love, and of G*d's love through her, and go share it as she had. That priest had been a part of the SCA; he knew how many pagani and Jews were in the pews, and he crafted a message we could all accept without discomfort. Question, that's another matter--I have plenty questions for him, alas that I shan't get them answered, mostly to do with his logic and word choices. However, I think I can follow his final instructions.

It was a high-Church Anglican Solemn High Mass, complete with more incense than most pagans see in three years: Frankincense at first, and myrrh followed (according to my nose). A choir, a piper, and three priests, the primary officiant being a former Baron of Angels, now clearly settled in a role of priest in pomp and circumstance (and flashy robes, too). Lots of Lucca Della Robbia work about the church, too. He resembled British actor Brian Blessed a bit, but not in the tonal qualities, even if he was a very good speaker (no one was in danger of nodding off).

We were all a bit weepy, a bit maudlin (but I didn't check for dirty toes), as one might expect. Kleenex was passed around before the ceremony began. There was a table with photos from her life, including sides of her many of us had never seen, from the decades before we met her. While I saw many folk I expected to see, but had not for a decade or more, I missed some I thought would have attended--and the same may be said of the wake. Email addresses were gathered...

Mistress Cat, Lady Cat, Baroness Cat, Mama Cat--she played big parts in many people's lives. In my case, she took a young woman but lately exposed to Scottish culture and fostered an interest in it via the interests I already had; she showed me another way of relating to a daughter; she showed me a hospitality of a different flavor from what I had learned growing up; and in one case, showed me that not every one marries the same virtues, and are not necessarily blind to the faults of the other, which might potentially cause pain to the first. I was included on long trips north to the Kingdom of the West, before Caid was a principality, and after--I'd be stuffed in a corner because I COULD fit there and not complain of cramps (can't do that any longer!) while getting to places I'd otherwise never see (this is a good thing, reallytruly!).

She was the first Real Live Pagan Priestess I ever met, after having read enough in my adolescence to feel a pull that way--and this is before the publication of Drawing down the Moon and of The Spiral Dance. Geography and transit lines' lacks kept me from becoming a student of hers, as the LA basin is not forgiving of those without cars of their own wishing to stray from the standard corridors or travel at later hours in the outlying areas. When I finally got a car at 29, and the license shortly thereafter, I returned quite a lot of Ride Karma, which transformed easily into carpooling practice later on.

Mothering was one of her great skills: alas, it is not mine, but I can learn from her and her example, and better what I have. Hospitality was another, and that I think I have learned and absorbed as a skill. I love having a house full of people talking and eating, singing and dancing, and laughing until it hurts. I want my home to be the haven hers was. I want to have time enough to learn all the things she'd had time to forget, with a few exceptions. I may never be a dab foot at Scottish Country Dancing, but I do adore dancing parties. Ask the Morris sides in my area!

I have to go find the Scotch Briar rose (or a nice deep red one--I'm quite fond of those myself) in my garden and give it a copper tag, saying it's dedicated to her. When it gets a little taller, I can plant some lavendar around it, and maybe, also in her memory, find some 2 gal. containers of heather and plant them at the entrance to the Garden Square. I don't *think* the roots will interfere with the wisteria.

The wake was held the next day at the home of a couple who had long and winding ties to her; I saw many, but not all, of the folks I'd seen the night before, and I saw a few there I had not seen at the funeral; again, many not seen for at least two decades. Many brought bottles of spirit to share, as well as a large variety of food (and there was even protein and vegetables!). There were no pronouncements or big speeches, but a few toasts, good fellowship, conversation and memories shared and exchanged. Again, I got a chance to connect to folks who'd been important parts of my life as a young girl, and get those email addys to allow reconnection. I also met some folk I'd not met before and chatted happily with them about mutual interests.

I learned about Locks of Love--and if any of you have long hair (a foot or longer) that you plan to chop, I urge you to enquire into donations for this organization. It makes wigs for kids who've lost theirs to alopecia, cancer treatments, or other misfortunes. You see, Cat's daughter Jeanne used to have lovely long hair that I envied: straight honey colored hair with a bit of wave to it. Now she has a short cut that my hair would never comply with anyway that frames her face beautifully. One of my foster-sisters, Eyana bat David, shaved her long black straight hair off before? the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and gave it to Locks of Love. Of course, Eyana used this to great effect as a Centauri woman in a masquerade competition, too. I've learned that she had a very nicely shaped head, and I'm going to go through my hat collection to see what I might pass on to her.

Another thing that happened is that we all saw older photos of Catriona, taken at the age Sine is now, and could finally see the resemblance, as her face was growing into the form her mother wore when first we met her. So, if you are told that you don't resemble a parent much, perhaps you have to wait a few more years for the resemblance to appear in the eyes of others who met that parent later in life.

What can you do with your days but work and hope? Let your dreams bind your work to your play
What can you do with every moment of your life But love 'till you've loved it away?
Love 'till you've loved it away. Bob Franke, "Thanksgiving Eve" (chorus)

(and then you say)

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