Cancer New Moon: Setting the Table

My grandfather built the house himself, a smallish bungalow a few miles from the river, with a good porch and a barn across the road. It was a humble house with three tiny bedrooms and a bathroom added by dad years later, when there were two small kids and a third on the way and Mom was fed up with dragging everything around to the outhouse.

At the center was a large, eat-in kitchen, with bedrooms and living room radiating from it like the rays of the sun. Six of us ate our meals at a round, oak table that, in my memory, was huge. Mom and Dad sat at that table late into the evenings, going over the budget, chatting with uncles and aunts and grandparents. We did our homework there, and mom set the table for big, fried chicken dinners on Sunday. Dad had his morning coffee and cigarette there when he came in from the fields for breakfast; I remember crawling up on his lap, remember his blue work coveralls and his stubbled cheek, remember feeling safe. Remember sitting there, too, the morning a neighbor showed up at the back door to tell us my father was dead.

Many years later, after my mother died, my aunt finally sold that old house. I hadn’t seen it in a decade, and I never planned to live there again, but it was hard to see it go. If my husband and I hadn’t bought our first house together the year before, I’d probably have lobbied to buy it. As long as we owned that house, a place still existed where we had been a family, all of us together.

Coincidentally, it was around this time that I found myself in possession of that old kitchen table. It had gotten a bit warped over the years, and contrary to my memory it was hardly big enough to accommodate even four adults. But back then, most us were little kids and we were all family, so there felt like plenty of space. I wanted to keep that table for sentimental reasons, but our house has small rooms, too, and no space for a dining table that can’t be used for dining. Eventually I passed it back to my sister, who is probably trying to figure out what to do with it now, herself.

When you’re young, there are usually some relatives, a house, some possessions that connect you to the place where you started. If the people who raised you did a good job, there are also places inside of you that act as an internal GPS, long after those people and those places are gone.

Cancer, the sign of home and history and heritage, is your astrological GPS, the umbilical cord that connects you to the mother ship and nourishes you to viability. It’s home – the place where you started out in life, the place where you begin each day, and the people and things that have been there with you. Sometimes it’s even an old, warped table.

The family home is still there, and the old neighborhood, and they’re looking good, but they’re no longer mine. Now in my fifties, I’m out of elders, other than a few older cousins. There have been rough times for my family over the past few years, with financial worries and health problems and various existential crises, and there is sometimes the sense that without the sustaining superglue of an elder generation, the wheels are about to fly right off the bus, sending us careening into a ditch.

But there are some young people in the family, and however wobbly we might be, we’re their umbilical cord. We’re what they’ve got. They sit at a table with us and listen to our stories, and struggle to remember their grandparents, so vivid and dear to us. They need nourishment, and a sense of place, and a tribe. I suppose someday they’ll cherish our unromantic Ikea dining tables and feel wistful about our houses.

We get to experience Cancer from the other side, now. We are the ones who have to try to summon words of wisdom, who celebrate the achievements and try to put the losses into perspective. We’re the ones who worry over the budget and try to suppress our anxiety about the future. We’re the ones who safeguard a past so that the next generation can head off into the future feeling a little more secure.

The New Moon in Cancer is the season to celebrate belonging, family, and home. Sadly, we don’t always get along with the people who share our blood. Some of them are cruel and destructive and violent, and we can’t have them in our lives. Some of us just lose our loved ones too young. So many of us are lost children practically from the time we’re born and have to figure out for ourselves how to deal with a harsh world, and that isn’t fair. We are children in grown up bodies, and when others look to us for nurturing, there is a small, resentful voice that says, “What about me?”

It’s a big round table that we’re all sitting at, more or less together, and even those of us who grew up with wise elders and stable households are still frightened children, sometimes. And sometimes there are bigger, stronger people protecting us from life’s harshness, but sometimes we’re the ones who have to fry the chicken and set the table. Even if you don’t have happy memories and protectors to make you feel cherished, here’s an unexpected truth: nurturing others can help heal the part of you that no one looked after properly.

So at this Cancer New Moon, I wish you a good dinner at a strong table with people who care about you. I wish you memories of how you’ve been loved and places where you’ve been happy. And if you don’t have those things, go ahead and set your table, and make supper, and invite someone you know to share it with you. We’re strangers, most of us, but we’re sitting at that big table together, just waiting to become a family.

© 2014, 2017 by April Elliott Kent

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23 Responses
  • Inez
    June 22, 2017

    April, I always enjoy your wisdom and storytelling.

    • Bernard Charles
      June 22, 2017

      Isn’t this absolutely the most delicious meal for the astrosoul. It hit me good as I heal that part of me with a violent family. Oh bless this storytelling and wisdom indeed! I’m going to wrap myself up in a meal with a friend. I miss coffee with my grandmother. So much. I wonder if she knows I wrote about her in my book. Touched by angels like April.

  • diane booth gilliam
    June 22, 2017

    Beautiful, powerful essay – April. My Mom died in July 2016 and I have her round, oak dining room table. I love its smooth finish and small warps, and I love remembering Mom sitting at that table hand-writing her Christmas cards or paying bills. Now I cannot wait to set up that table somewhere, in a little place of my own, so I can draw together my chosen family for dinners and laughter. Thanks for writing this, and for offering yourself so generously all these years.

  • Jennifer
    June 22, 2017

    Hello April,
    This article brought back so many memories for me. I was raised by my grandparents, and the memories are still so vivid, and I miss them every day.
    Thank you for writing a piece that describes life.
    Jenny xxx

  • Mackenzie
    June 22, 2017

    So beautiful and well put. Thank you!

  • Mary McClain
    June 22, 2017

    Your story & message resonates so perfectly at this time!
    It really strikes a chord! Thank you!

  • Paula
    June 22, 2017

    April, I love this. Sitting in my eat-in country kitchen is an old round oak table that my father used to run around with his sister, and even sometimes hide under for games of hide and seek. I remember sitting at that table in my grandfather’s house (we lived with him until I was seven after my grandmother died), eating corn-on-cob with Gramps and everyone else around it. Or sitting there listening to my dad read stories while my mom cut our hair.

    I eat breakfast every morning at that table while checking Facebook or reading a book.

    And I know that when I am gone, that table, along with a number of other family heirlooms will go by the wayside as none of our three boys have the least interest…and two of them don’t even have the space.

    Thank you for so evocative an essay.

  • Jessica Lynn
    June 22, 2017

    Thank you for another heart felt essay, I am quoting you in my newsletter going out, as I have the round gate-legged mahogany table that came by boat from England with my grandparents to Toronto, then on to Ferndale Michigan where my grandparents became citizens, then they followed my parents out to California as did all the family. This table will be passed along to my grand daughter who is going to be having her own daughter in October, and life goes on….

  • Ann Raabe
    June 22, 2017

    What is it about tables?
    King Arthur’s, yours, mine?
    They are, to me, like bowls. They hold space.
    “My” table is one my grandfather hauled from the local dump, soaked in water, re-straightened, and filled the gaps with something starkly white. It is a lovely blonde color with white gum filling the holes. My most treasured (functional) possession.
    I have beautiful tables from Africa. They are luminous and gorgeous. But my grandfather’s table holds my candles, my altar and my spiritual essence.
    Thank you, April. Happy New Moon to all.

  • Heather Murphy
    June 22, 2017

    This is so incredibly beautiful and well -written. With the South Node conjoined the Moon in the 4th house- I felt this deeply.

    Thank you.

  • Chris Klein-Goss
    June 22, 2017

    Dear April, This post is perfectly timed… my brothers and I are in process of closing our Parents Estate and selling the house soon. For about 100 years and certainly for all of my life, there has been a Family house in my home town that we could go to; either Grandma & Grandpa’s, or Mom & Dad’s. Soon, that will all be gone, and my Sons and Grandchildren are across the country… I have made it a point to nurture friends, when Family doesn’t need my attentions, and it really does fill a huge void. Sometimes, they appreciate my efforts even MORE than Family might. I seem to be realigning my perspective and accepting that I am the elder, now, and it’s growing on me… Thank You for another fine post.

  • Susan Merrick
    June 22, 2017

    Loved reading this April! Thank you for writing it!

  • Rhea
    June 22, 2017

    I remember saying this to you before that I envy you the love and security of your childhood, the secure foundation to build your life on, not having that myself I appreciate the truth of the words in the last paragraph but it is almost impossible when there are no foundations, there is a hole inside that I now realise I can’t fill, trying to stands out like the plastic wood filler in that table you talked off. The passion of Leo and Sag is wonderful, do you have Pisces on the fourth house!
    I still envy you, it’s taken me all this time to realise that nothing compensates for what you had, and only by accepting that can I have a life not driven by filling a hole.
    Thank you again

  • Sylvia Bogart
    June 23, 2017

    I remember when we all looked around for the “Elders” and could not seem to find any. We were at an event called “The Rainbow Gathering” one day a group of young people came into my tent asking for the Elder, was I her? The drum guy down at the end had said that she was here. My sign declared that I was “Boss Wench” so I looked at them, their big wide open eyes, and I swallowed deeply. “I guess I am the “Elder” here, have a seat here at my fire. Have some coffee. What can I do for you today?” That was the beginning of a long journey, I am still lucky enough to be a part of still. “Nurturing others can help heat the part of you that no one looked after properly.” Such a true statement. Love and Light. Blessed Be.

  • SupremeRulerOTE
    June 23, 2017

    Oh, I hope that the family enjoys and cherishes my little home after I’m gone (cause yer not getting it right now!)…I’m busy constantly trying to color it and fill it with the joy I’ve felt (and banish the occasional sadnesses) since I bought it and moved in.

    I loved this piece, April, and even though I wasn’t part of your early Indiana life, it brought a rich picture of your perspective to me. I am sorry you lost your father, however, if that had to happen, I am so very happy that it brought you (and May-ri) more fully into my life which you have enriched beyond words.


  • Lori
    June 23, 2017

    Heartfelt and inspirational. Thank you for enlightening me and refreshing the memories of my childhood.

  • Sonali
    June 23, 2017

    What a beautiful & touching essay. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the same as well as the afterglow it radiated.

  • Sandra Williams
    June 23, 2017

    You really struck a chord with this one — beautifully written from the gut! The truth radiates out to touch us all in that Moon place of memories and seeking a touchstone of respite in a sometimes chaotic world. My grandmother had a round oak table which I sat under as a small child, listening to adult conversations. I have no idea who inherited that table, but when I had the money to buy a table of my own choosing, not a hand-me-down from the in-laws, it was a round oak table with claw feet. It is still my point of contact with my maternal ancestry.
    Thank you for the memories.

  • Katje
    June 23, 2017

    Beautiful, thank you. Thank you for addressing the lost child in some of us and acknowledging that perhaps-not-quite-so-hidden resentment while being encouraging about pushing past that little voice that says “but what about me”.

  • Bonnie
    June 24, 2017

    You are an exquisite writer and I look forward to all your blogs. Thank you for sharing and thereby enriching us all. This one exceptionally spoke to all types of family experiences.

  • weaver
    June 24, 2017

    ah, this one is magical…time flies, qualities change, needs remain.

  • LB
    June 28, 2017

    Exquisite, as always.

  • Sunny
    June 30, 2017

    Excellent! Thank you. It felt like you were speaking directly to my Cancer Moon. Essays like this are the reason I recommend your work to others.