Thursday, April 24, 2014

Morning Glory’s “Wake”

Morning Glory, Morgan, Wynter, Baby Girl

My old friend Anna Korn and I drove up to the Zell compound in Cotati after I finished with the Wiccan circle at San Quentin, so we weren’t there from the very beginning.  When we arrived, there were cars parked up and down both sides of the country road outside their home and the place was packed.  There was a proverbial groaning board in the dining room that kept acquiring more and more dishes of food.  Platters of ham, beef, chicken for the carnivores.  All manner of salads and side dishes – beans, pasta, greens, tomatoes and pomegranate seeds, you name it.  Plus veggies, breads and many tasty chips for dipping in many tasty dips.  There were also food tables out on the various decks surrounding the house, with plenty of folks outside, too.  There was a seemingly endless supply of wines and other potables, including Pyrate Jenny with her lovely basket filled with about a dozen different flasks, each containing some kind of whiskey or rum.

People congregated in the two living rooms, the den, and in several seating clusters on the surrounding decks.  During this time Zack Darling, using a fancy video camera with a tripod and a handheld mic, recorded stories about Morning Glory from individual friends and lovers.

The stated plan was that small groups of people would be shuttled to the hospital for brief visits with MG.  Only two visitors were permitted in her room at a time. 

Anna is an old friend of the Zells and other Pagans at Greenfield Ranch, and in fact had lived there for a time in her younger years, so she was going up there to see MG. 

However, since I have never been involved with Church of All Worlds, although I’ve attended a weekend gathering now and then over the past 30+ years, I had planned to defer visiting to others who were either closer or who’d come from farther away. 

My former Holy Terrors coven sister Cerridwen Fallingstar had visited her only two days earlier, on Thursday, and said it was a really hard visit because MG was in such intense pain.  One of the first friends I spoke with when we got to the “wake” was Richard Ely, another old friend.  Richard told me that he too had visited MG a day or so before, and that seeing her in such extreme pain was difficult.  So hearing this news reinforced my plan to forego a face-to-face visit.  It seemed to me that, however much she appreciated a gathering in her honor, one in which people related loving, often hilarious tales about her, she had only so much energy in her weakening state.  There was only so much time, and there were so many people!

So I spent the time visiting with old friends, becoming better acquainted with others, and meeting a few new ones.

When Anna and I arrived, Cerridwen, who planned to drive back to Marin with us, was off at the hospital with Morning Glory.  She told us when she returned that MG seemed much, much, much better today.  Evidently the medical professionals found the right painkillers for her.  I was relieved to learn this.

But it’s the other observation Cerridwen related that upset me.  It turns out that some of the visitors to Morning Glory’s bedside had never met her before!  Why would someone who’s never met the patient choose to take up limited time, space, and the patient’s energy to get some grand introduction?  There’s a carrion-esque feel to this situation.  Not that I don’t love carrion eaters; I am one.  But carrion eaters wait till their meal is dead before diving in.

Now I didn’t ask Morning Glory if she welcomed people who didn’t know her.  Perhaps she did.  One might reasonably assume that someone took on the role of figurative gatekeeper of access to MG, in which case some boundaries might have been set up.  Again, perhaps someone did and everything was copacetic.  I wasn’t there.  But I can tell anyone reading this right now: if I’m in any kind of state wherein my health is compromised and I need others to care for my daily needs, whether in a hospital or at home, please do not bring strangers to my bedside!

Cerridwen, Avelynn(sp?), Willowoak, Raina, Julie (my hand in foreground)

Farida, driver for that particular shuttle, soon left for the hospital with Anna.  While they were gone I mostly hung in the living room where MG’s famous collection of goddess statues are displayed.  Personnel shifted, but most of the time Julie Epona more or less presided.  Others I got to catch up with a little bit were Anodea Judith, Willowoak (who was super unsteady on her feet, had fallen more than once that day, and seemed to want her wine cup refilled often), Raina Woolfolk.

During that period Zack recorded Cerridwen, a former lover of MG’s, reading a story she’d written about her early days with MG.  The scene was a park in a middle class neighborhood in the Los Angeles area.  I found it to be a magical piece, full of love and sensuality.  I was glad I happened to be there to listen to it told directly to MG via the camera lens.

Anyone who knows Morning Glory knows she’s a sensuous, sexual, loving being, so it’s not surprising that other lovers spoke, including MG’s “Filly from Philly,” Diane Nemea Laessig.

Hospital visiting hours having concluded, we loaded our car to leave when Oberon drove in the driveway with a car full of folks.

I hope that this tribute served to lighten the spirits of Morning Glory and all her loved ones and caregivers.

Photos by Diane Nemea Laessig.


Anonymous said...

There was a gatekeeper at the hospital. MG was better than she had been but still was not entirely pain free. I left to make room for others, though it seemed MG didn't want me to go. I think she is a genuine extrovert, energized by having people around. Personally, I was overwhelmed by the crowd.


Anonymous said...

Hello Macha,

I was also at the wake and have to say I disagree with you about visitors to Morning Glory at the hospital.

There was a team of people at the hospital receiving visitors on Morning Glory's behalf (including Oberon) and making sure that everyone got a chance to see her. As we were leaving to return to the house from the hospital, Oberon asked that we send more people to come visit.

With each person, Morning Glory took her time, was deeply gracious and generous. It didn't seem to matter if she has known you for decades or days, she received everyone and seemed to genuinely appreciate each person who came to visit. Morning Glory has a vast legacy and witnessing and being with all of the people she has touched seemed to me what she wanted, and what Oberon was trying to facilitate for her.

I don't see the purpose in criticizing the wishes of a well-adored elder who is facing death with courage and grace.

Anonymous said...

While I have never met her or Oberon, I have read many articles by and about them. I'm reading one now... While I would LOVE to have seen her once, to feel her energy that everyone loves so much, I wouldn't want to take time away from her loves and friends. I am happy she got to make so many friends, and that she has a large support system for her and Oberon.

Broomstick Chronicles said...

Anonymous, I'm sure that MG enjoyed her visitors or otherwise they'd have been asked to leave. If you read my blog carefully, I said that maybe she did, I didn't know, but that I would not.

We at the house received these messages for more visitors. I chose to give priority, and my place in the queue, to those from farther away or who were closer to her.

Nowhere did I criticize MG's wishes. I merely compared them to what my own would be were I in a similar situation.

I'm happy that both MG and her visitors had the opportunity to share this time together.

I repeat: I hope that this tribute served to lighten the spirits of Morning Glory and all her loved ones and caregivers.

Chas said...

Thanks for this report, Macha. I wish that I could have been there.

As for the people who did not know MG, I don't the open invitation specified anything about that, did it?

Broomstick Chronicles said...

No, Chas, the open invitation didn't specify anything about who might visit. I made a personal choice for reasons I explained, and clarified my own stance should I be in a similar situation. To me it's a simple matter of consideration.

Dana Seilhan said...

Just as an FYI, some people are going to take what you said as a criticism because it sounds very scoldy. Each person's different both in what they'd want if they were on their deathbed, and in how they interpret other people's words.

I'm an introvert, and I'm not sure I could say with any real authority what I'd want to happen if I were on my deathbed, but from this vantage point I might not mind having strangers visit as long as they were respectful and didn't displace people I already knew. I'm not absolutely sure of that though. Something to ponder, I guess...