I was born in St. Joseph’s hospital. My dear Grandpy was born on St. Joseph’s Feast Day, March 19, and so his name was Joseph. My life partner’s is Joey. His dad, also Joseph, fell ill in mid-October at the tail end of the book launch road trip for The Book of Spells. Joey and I were driving to his dad’s house in Reno when we discovered that Dad had taken the ambulance to the hospital for a blockage in his intestines.
Joseph Conti, who turned 80 in July, collected cars and cookie jars. He rode rodeo when he was young and is the third of four brothers, who grew up in the Italian neighborhood of San Francisco. Joe told yarns about his days as a gas station owner, casino owner and pit boss as fantastic as the movie the Big Fish. He appeared in the movie The Cooler, loved John Wayne, brought the card game Texas Holdum to California, and kissed his full grown sons on the lips with an endearing, “How are you doing, honey?”
This December I created a different advent altar each Sunday as part of my spiritual practice. I was also using this ritual to feel into my losses, beginning with the death day of my Grandpy Joe on December 7 and my Dad John and Best Friend Melinda Rodriguez, both on December 11.
I didn’t light the last candle for humankind on December 22, because I was traveling. On January 2, we got the news that Joseph Conti’s breathing had become labored and we knew he was preparing to journey to the Other Side, so we lit the last candle at 7pm and said the prayer. We placed pictures of our loved ones plus a wooden statue of St. Joseph that I got when my children were in Waldorf School. Three hours later, we received the news that Dad had passed. Joey and I held each other for over an hour and then he went downstairs alone.
Joey, my man is quite new to magick, and yet when the time comes, we all feel it in our bones. He relit the candle for humankind and watched the flame until the candle melted. As the candle shrank, the wax melted in a cascade, dripping down, until the candle was nothing more than a pool in the holder. The candlelight flickered bright and went out then flickered bright again and went out ten times. Joey was holding the light for his father in the transition from Earth to the Other Side, like a torch in a hallway. Joey plans to take this wax and Dad’s ashes and leave it at a place he once camped with Dad and brother Tony.
I am so inspired by Joey’s demonstration of being a Light for a Loved One. I hope someone loves me this much in my transition and if the time comes for me to hold the torch for another, I hope I can be brave with my big emotions and feelings.