I knew Caterina wasn't feeling so hot. She said as much when I saw her at Arcosanti over the course of the Soleri memorial gathering. But it didn't register that she might be talking about a 'something serious' matter, a 'something deadly' matter. She gave off not even a whiff of a hint that there might be that much gravity in her condition when she told me, in that always-husky voice of hers that was laced like Italiana coffee spiked with rum, that her mother was trying to die, trying to hasten her death by not eating.
I wasn't sure what to make of all that. I knew her mother, had stayed with them while I was in Rome for a conference in 2005, and i couldn't easily fathom that grande dame taking steps to hasten her own death. Personality-wise, she hadn't given off even so much as a minor key's shredded grace note of despair while I was with her; and although a lot can happen in as much time as had flown by since last I had seen that grande belle dame, Cate's reports, which I gathered fairly regularly, hadn't included any landsliding.
Until...now, when all of a sudden, she's saying her mother's trying to die. Why?
Beware the "rage for order" as poet Wallace Stevens had it!? What had gone unsaid, unspoken?
I dunno but I was relieved in an odd way - at least it made some kind of weird sense to me, after the fact - that Cate's mother had managed to not outlive her daughter, since surviving one's child is a violation of the natural order of things. Because for sure one is not geared to outlive one's children. Parenting is a job that's supposed to have obsolescence built into it. Your kids are supposed to be able to manage without you if, as a parent, you've done the parenting project right.
But to have to go on without them, without your kid or kids? I don't think so. G-d forbid. So when I heard that Caterina's mother la Dottoressa had died, oh maybe 3 weeks before Cate, some of the pain and confusion I felt when news of Cate's passing reached me flattened out. Didn't disappear. But I could, at least, relate...
I never knew Nanni (Giovanni) Loy, Cate's father, a filmmaker of note. He died in 1995 - 8 years before I met her at Arcosanti. The NYTimes death notice ends with a family dynamics report that leaves out, I daresay, quite a bit: "Mr. Loy is survived by his companion, Elvira Carteny, and four children, Tommaso, Francesco, Caterina, and Guglielmo."
Never mind what the obit leaves out. What I know is: I'm sad Cate's gone, and even if I'm glad I got to see her before she passed away, dying like that ain't any easier now than ever it might have been, anywhere over the world. At least IMO.
Take whatever joy you can in the life you've been given, here and now. Make the best of it; learn to do good as well as you can.
That's what Caterina Loy said, that's what she did. L'arte d'arrangiarsi - the art of making something out of nothing. "The art of turning a few simple ingredients into a feast, or a few gathered friends into a festival" - as author Elizabeth Gilbert notes in Eat Pray Love - that was Cate's specialty.
Since Cate's contribution to Arcosanti was so food-centered, I personally would like to see tribute offered in the form of making sure that the Arcosanti Cafe is completely transformed (I mean: totally/completely transformed) into the phenomenal "Farm/Garden to Table" establishment she recognized it can/should be.
Grazie e ciao, Cate!