Two weeks ago, just before his 89th birthday, my father died. At three in the morning his sister heard him mutter “Christ!” It wasn’t until the next morning she discovered him on the floor of his bedroom unable to get up. He fell again that afternoon while opening a can of tuna. “Shit!” he moaned. Blood poured from his head.
Death is one of those mysteries that hides behind a hideous surface. It’s universally sad. We consider it a defeat. But as my father lay barely conscious in the hospital, his upper body thin and wasting, his legs swollen three times their size, with a fatty tumor bigger than a cantaloupe in his belly, death seemed more friend than enemy. The final week my father was in the hospital, I began to think of him as Christopher Columbus heading off for a New World, the pioneer of our nuclear family, embarking on the greatest adventure of all. Indeed, when he finally passed, it was within hours of the Jupiter Uranus conjunction, that wonderful aspect of discovery and invention. It was trine his Scorpio Ascendant.
I once heard the great astrologer and data collector Lois Rodden discussing death. I was surprised when she said that benefic Jupiter was often involved. Yet why not? From the soul’s point of view, it’s such a gift to move on. Grim Reaper Saturn also takes an interest, and the day my father died, Saturn was marching toward his Libra Sun. But when I put the transits of my father’s death chart around his natal wheel, it was neither Saturn nor Jupiter who vied for my attention. To an astrologer’s eye, the planets will often wink, vibrate, or grow larger to announce that they’re involved. The blinking planets this time were Mercury and Mars. Transiting Mars in Scorpio was conjunct my dad’s natal Mercury (ruler of his 8th house of death); transiting Mercury in Virgo was conjunct his natal Mars (ruler of his Ascendant and the body). These were the psychopomps who arrived at 1:10 pm to escort my father into the other world. He took two gasping breaths and was gone.
Today is his birthday. Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.