One Goddess and One in the Making
Part I: On the Nature of Happiness


She knelt under the rose bushes singing softly in Italian, with the sometimes English splashed in for meaning, as she cultivated the earth.  She sang to the roots that they might make happy.  She sang to the thorny branches, the vision of which as she peered up through them to the sky, mirrored her thorny life, that they may remember to manifest their beauty to the heavens…always to the heavens.  And for a life filled with grace. She sang softly this goddess.

The granddaughter arrived, having slowed her skip to a soft walk as not to be heard.  Granddaughter loved to watch the goddess from a distance, always in wonder.  Granddaughter climbed over the rock border, carefully wove through a labyrinth of rosebushes and thorns and knelt beside her grandmother who had not addressed the young one’s presence but continued tilling and singing.

“Grandma, why are you singing”?

No response. This confused the child because she knew the night before it happened again.  The adults had gathered, huddled in their fumbled efforts to ‘keep it from the children’, to discuss that grandpa had been drunk and beat the goddess…my grandmother, again.

And she sang. And the child asked.  The grandmother knew the child would ask as child was the outspoken one- grandmother’s thorn and delight- to train.

“Grandma, (more loudly with angst) why are you singing.  I know grandpa hurt you again last night.”

Tears filled the granddaughter’s eyes, but not her cheeks.  Goddess would have thought that weak and unnecessary; She wasn’t crying, I needn’t cry.

Slowly, with deliberation, and arthritis, the goddess uncurled her bent bodice to kneel straight up.  She looked up.  She made a huge heave of her scrawny chest.  She looked down and reached into the earth bringing up in her hand a mound of deliciously fragrant black dirt.

The Grandmother, this child’s goddess and teacher, took the young one’s hand in hers and placed them both, dirt and all, over her heart.  Grandmother then began to beat her dirt palm against her heart- once, twice, three times and more.

 “Child”, the grandmother’s face shadowed between pleading and raw courage, “I make my happy.  You must learn this”. She opened my hand and poured the earth into it and pressed my palm to my heart.  The tears ran down my face. The drumming beat deep into my being.

“You, Catherine, must learn to make your happy.”

And with that, they curled slowly back to the earth to work in silence.