My mother passed away at approximately 11:10 PM EDT on Wednesday, 14 April 2010. She had been in severe decline for almost three years, suffered from heart, lung and kidney disease and Alzheimer’s, and experienced moderate to severe back pain almost every day of her final four years. Thankfully her Alzheimer’s had not yet progressed to the point where she didn’t know us, or at least recognize us as comfortingly familiar, even if she couldn’t always swear on a bible who exactly we were (especially around Full Moon). In her last weeks, her kidneys had ceased to function, and when her body refused the required dialysis earlier that day, doctors advised us that the end would not be far off, though it was not expected she would pass within hours.
Born Lorraine Minnie Werkheiser on 16 July 1931, “just after sunrise,” to quote my grandmother, she married my father, Marshall Miller, in 1956. Her elder sister married young, and early in her marriage, she and her husband and son lived with my mother and her parents in their Nazareth, Pennsylvania, home. Mom always hated her middle name, Minnie, which was a nickname derived from that of her grandmother, Minerva Aquilla Rinker (whose father was apparently a classicist with delusions of grandeur), and her brother-in-law teased her mercilessly about that dislike, often referring to her as “Minnie.” Her young toddler nephew, my cousin Barry, joined in the fun, but the word came out “Mimi,” and my mother has been “Aunt Mimi” to the family ever since. Despite its initial provenance, she enjoyed the name immensely.
There are asteroids named Lorraine (#1114), Mimi (#1127) and Miller (#1826), and they show up in significant aspect at key moment’s of my mother’s life and death, an apt illustration of how even apparently innocuous personal-named asteroids can have a vital role to play in the unfolding astro-drama of our existence.
Born 16 July 1931, mom had a Pluto/Sun conjunction at 20 and 23 Cancer which made her physically tough as nails. Always thin (her Sun also opposes Saturn), and positively frail toward the end, her doctors were amazed that she lasted nearly as long as she did, with lung disease being the first major problem to emerge, in her forties, followed in the past decade by heart rhythm issues, ongoing kidney disease, and a severe hiatal hernia that finally required her to live on a diet of ground or liquefied foods for her last months. She hung on through it all, knowing she’d never make the family record of 99 set by her mother, but determined to do her best. Jupiter also conjoins the Sun from 29 Cancer, and mom held religion to be very important in life; it was a defining aspect of her personality, which she made an important formative agent in my own development, albeit we ended up parting ways on the specifics.
I’m thinking my grandmother’s recollection of her birth time as “sunrise” is about right, as that gives her a 4 Leo Moon, which, 29 years later, would be my solar degree. If so, then at her birth asteroid “Lorraine” was in a tight square to the Moon from 5 Scorpio, as well as trine Venus at 8 Cancer, accenting both primary female markers in her chart. Lorraine is conjoined the illuminating Quasar at 4 Scorpio, potentially highlighting that name for my grandmother as the choice for her younger daughter.
The Sun opposes Saturn at 19 Capricorn, lending additional toughness and endurance. Capricorn Saturn is a family trait; my grandmother, my aunt and I all share it at the same degree, 13 Capricorn, which also happens to be exactly where asteroid “Mimi” was at mom’s birth, its conjunction to her Saturn reflecting the name which she would be known by within the family for most of her adult (Saturn) life. Although her mother, sister and husband of course called her “Lorraine” in private speech, when referred to in the family, she was always “Aunt Mimi.” Her husband, Marshall Miller, born four years later on 7 January 1935, would have his Sun at 16 Capricorn, right on the Mimi/Saturn midpoint, and also opposed her Sun. Asteroid “Miller,” my father’s surname, falls at 14 Leo, close to the Moon, denoting intimacy, and conjunct Mercury at 10 Leo, implying a meeting of the minds, which was surely the case for Marshall and Lorraine, who were inseparable for nearly 54 years.
Mom and dad married on 19 May 1956. The Sun at 28 Taurus is conjoined by asteroid Miller at 25 Taurus, and her natal Sun/Saturn opposition is repeated, with Saturn now at 29 Scorpio. Venus at 6 Cancer has almost returned to its natal degree at 8 Cancer, both squared by asteroid Aphrodite, named for the Greek goddess of love, at 10 Aries, conjunct a Quasar. Asteroid Lorraine at 18 Gemini opposes asteroid Hera, Greek goddess of marriage, on a Black Hole (denoting status alteration) at 17 Sagittarius. Asteroid Mimi at 16 Capricorn is just past its natal degree, now exactly conjunct my father’s 19 Capricorn Sun, and traveling with Juno, Hera’s Roman counterpart and arbiter of nuptials, at 22 Capricorn.
I am my parents’ only child. Born 27 July 1960, the Sun that day exactly highlighted mom’s likely Moon (maternity) degree of 4 Leo, with Venus exactly conjunct her natal asteroid Miller at 14 Leo, producing the visible evidence of my parents’ love. Asteroid Demeter, named for the Greek goddess of motherhood, at 27 Taurus is conjunct asteroid Artemis, Greek protectress of women in childbirth, and Mars (ruling sex and procreation), both at 26 Taurus, all these points conjunct the Sun of her marriage, as well as her natal Chiron at 22 Taurus. I was, indeed, born wounded, with a hole in a ventricle which required open heart surgery at age three, in an era when such operations were hardly routine.
Mars/Demeter/Artemis is squared by asteroid Ceres, Roman goddess of motherhood, at 23 Aquarius, conjunct asteroid Child at 20 Aquarius, which together are exactly inconjunct her natal Sun/Pluto at 23 and 20 Cancer. Saturn at 13 Capricorn is exactly on natal asteroid Mimi, showing “Aunt Mimi” in the new role of parent. Transit asteroid Mimi at 18 Sagittarius conjoins the Hera for the wedding and opposes its Lorraine at 18 Gemini. Asteroid Miller at 23 Pisces is sextile Mars/Demeter/Artemis, as well as exactly trine mom’s natal Sun and opposed her natal Mars at 20 Virgo. Asteroid Haumea, named for the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth, at 29 Leo tightly squares the 28 Taurus Sun of the wedding.
Despite her increasing physical obstacles, mom remained active throughout the first 50 years of her marriage, enjoying cross-country travel as a family and later with my father. She enjoyed gardening, became an avid birder, and her times in nature with my father were among the happiest of her life. Then, just a scant few weeks before her Golden Anniversary in 2006, mom missed the bottom step of the stairs at their home in Nazareth, fell and cracked a patella. The injury could have been much worse, and at the time, it didn’t seem too serious, but it led to a chain of events that severely impacted her final years. Mom wore a leg brace while the kneecap healed, and with that on, she needed my father to help her in and out of bed. Mom also suffered from osteoporosis, and at some time that month, while being lifted out of bed, mom received a compression fracture in three lower vertebrae. Constipation from the narcotic prescribed to manage the pain caused a bowel compaction which required hospitalization, and initiated a downward spiral that resulted in more than a dozen ER visits, hospitalizations, and rehab stays over the next four years. An attempted kyphoplasty (a procedure where “glue” is injected between fused vertebrae to reduce the pain) was ineffective, and with her extreme sensitivity to narcotics, mom was left to endure her back pain with nothing more than Tylenol for most of that period. She was diagnosed with arrhythmia early on during this period, and with Alzheimer’s in 2008.
When mom fell on 1 May 2006, asteroid Lorraine at 17 Leo was squared a Black Hole at 16 Taurus (alteration of circumstance), conjunct natal asteroid Miller at 14 Leo, trine natal Uranus (accidents) at 19 Aries, and inconjunct natal Saturn (skeletal structure, spine) at 19 Capricorn. Asteroid Mimi at 4 Capricorn was also on a Black Hole, opposed her natal Venus at 8 Cancer and exactly inconjunct the natal Moon (health issues) at 4 Leo. Asteroid Miller at 26 Capricorn opposed natal Pluto/Sun/Jupiter.
Mom passed on the day of the New Moon at 24 Aries, which was exactly conjoined another Black Hole. By the time of her death at 11:10 PM EDT, 14 April 2010, the Sun had moved to 25 Aries, in exact opposition to transit asteroid Miller at 25 Libra, which also squares her natal Sun/Pluto, forming a temporary T-Square. The Sun is also conjoined by transit asteroid Osiris, named for the Egyptian god of the dead, at 22 Aries.
The Moon had transited to 2 Taurus, squared her natal Moon at 4 Leo, and is the first of a string of Taurean points including asteroid Requiem (the funeral mass for the dead) at 5 Taurus, exactly opposed mom’s natal asteroid Lorraine at 5 Scorpio from a manifestation-evoking Quasar and exactly trine transit Pluto (death, transformation): Mercury (in his capacity as psychopomp, or guide of souls to the underworld) at 11 Taurus, exactly conjunct the Sun of her fall and squared her natal Mercury at 10 Leo; asteroid Lorraine at 13 Taurus, squared natal asteroid Miller at 14 Leo, exactly trine natal asteroid Mimi at 13 Capricorn and exactly squared a Black Hole at 13 Aquarius; and Venus at 16 Taurus, exactly conjunct a Black Hole, and exactly trine my father’s Sun at 16 Capricorn, taking the love of his life in the alternate reality (Black Hole) of death. Transit Juno, the marriage goddess, follows at 28 Taurus, exactly conjunct the Sun of mom’s wedding.
Transit asteroid Mimi at 22 Sagittarius is trine the transit Sun, exactly trine transit Osiris, opposed transit asteroid Hades (named for both the Greek god of death and the underworld over which he presides) at 27 Gemini, inconjunct both mom’s natal Chiron at 22 Taurus and Sun at 23 Cancer, forming a Yod, or Finger of Destiny, and squared the MC/IC axis for the time of her death, at 24 Virgo/Pisces.
That 24 Virgo MC is conjoined by her natal Mars at 20 Virgo and transit Saturn (ancient lord of death) at 29 Virgo, itself trine the Sun for the wedding and exactly sextile natal Jupiter at 29 Cancer. The 24 Pisces IC is conjunct transit Jupiter (long journeys, and often active at the time of death) at 20 Pisces (from where it exactly opposes natal Mars) and transit Uranus (sudden passing, though not unexpected) at 28 Pisces, exactly on a Black Hole.
The 7 Gemini Descendant is an exact match for the Mercury of her wedding, and is squared by asteroid Hekate (named for another underworld goddess associated with death and the guidance of souls) at 8 Pisces, which also is exactly trine natal Venus at 8 Cancer. Transit Mars (death in some contexts) at 6 Leo and transit asteroid Atropos (named for one of the Three Fates known as the Cutter, who severs the thread of Life at death) at 1 Leo both conjoin the natal Moon (the physical body) at 4 Leo. Transit Neptune at 28 Aquarius, exactly on a Black Hole, is also exactly squared both transit Juno (marriage) and the Sun of mom’s wedding at 28 Taurus, thus dissolving (Neptune) that union. Transit Pluto (death, decay, rebirth and transformation) at 5 Capricorn is also exactly conjunct a Black Hole, exactly sextile natal asteroid Lorraine at 5 Scorpio, and conjoined asteroid Mimi at 4 Capricorn for the fall which precipitated her decline.
I don’t profess or presume to know what happens to us at the end of life, but of one thing I can be certain: my mother is now beyond the reach of her pain, and for that I’m truly grateful. Rest in peace, mom.