Thursday, May 31, 2018

Saint Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music

I was going to write this blog a year ago, but my writing process was derailed by life. Emotions were running high for everyone in my circle of friends during the month of May last year due to the passing of my friend, Jimmy LaFave. I kept putting it off until I forgot. So today in honor of my mom's birthday I am writing.

Synchronicity is a big part of my life, I feel blessed when it occurs. My friend Jay Curlee snapped a photo of the fresco of Saint Cecilia, painted on the interior of "The Paramount Theater" last year. It was the evening of May 18, during "The Jimmy LaFave Songwriter Rendezvous." It was three days before Jimmy passed away. Saint Cecilia frescos are a part of the decor in many theaters because she is the patron saint of musicians.

Saint Cecilia Fresco
Paramount Theater
Austin, Texas
Saint Cecilia Fresco
Paramount Theater
Austin, Texas

Saint Cecilia Fresco
Paramount Theater
Austin, Texas

I love this fresco and all things Saint Cecilia because my full name is Cecelia Christina Fajardo. I have been told my whole life that I was named after the patron saint of musicians so I have worn that hat very proudly and it has been as much of a joke in my inner circle as it is an honor. I was, in fact, wearing that hat proudly at the Paramount the night the photo of Saint Cecilia was taken. I couldn't see the fresco from where I was seated because I was stage left, as I displayed all of the slide shows I had created for "The Jimmy LaFave Songwriter Rendezvous" from my laptop to the screen behind the band.

My laptop, Stage Left
Paramount Theater

Stage Left
Paramount Theater

Jimmy had requested that a slide show of photos of his life be shown as the audience enter the theater. You can see it on the link below.

As each of his chosen performers played, a slide show of each of them playing with Jimmy through his life long musical career, was shown behind the band on a larger than life backdrop on the stage. I spent hours each day the for the first 3 weeks in May, combing through photos to find the perfect photos for these projects. It was nothing less than a labor of love for Jimmy and all my musician friends who were performing that night. Only someone labeled a patron saint of musicians would take on such a project. It was a blessing and means to help process his passing.

Jaimee Harris Singing "Restless Spirits"
at the Jimmy LaFave Songwriter Rendezvous
with a larger than life photo of them in the background

Jimmy's Songwriter Rendezvous was on Thursday May 18, then on Friday night I went to Lana Nelson's for the annual Taurus birthday party weekend for the May birthday girls. (Mary McWatters, Ellen Rothkrug and me) While we were having dinner, I was wearing my Taurus princess tiara. Ellen was claiming the title of Queen for the night and brought up the fact that I was named after Saint Cecilia and a German princess that lived in Amarillo when I was born. I vaguely remembered being told that I was named after a princess but I mentioned it to a teacher in elementary school and she made fun of me so I never mentioned it again. To anyone. So fast forward half a century and as fate would have it, my mother and Ellen became very close in the last three years of my mother's life, after my father passed away. She and Ellen went on trips together and fortunately, she told Ellen stories I had either forgotten or she had never mentioned to me. My mother talked about her life much more in the final years of her life. I am realizing myself that as I have gotten older, I have time to reminisce and see our lives from a different perspective. In doing so, we become more forgiving of ourselves.

So at dinner on the night of May 19, Ellen started to tell the story about the German princess that lived in Amarillo and Mary said "Oh yeah, I remember that Princess. Her daughter, Kira was my sister Joan's friend." Then our friend from Germany, Ruth Boggs said that wasn't possible. So she googled it and it was all true, but her name was Cecilie, not Cecilia. Not only was it true but there had been a movie made about Princess Cecilie's husband, Clyde Harris, called "Monuments Men" in 2014, starring George Clooney.

Princess Cecilie and Husband Clyde Harris
Princess Cecilie and
Her daughter Kira,
born 7 months before me on Oct 20, 1954

Clyde Harris was a 1939 graduate from Oklahoma State in Stillwater with a degree in Interior Design. Okay... that is interesting.... LaFave grew up in Stillwater. As a Monuments Man, Clyde helped the family of Prince Ludwig von Hesse-Darmstadt recover their family art, stolen by the Nazis during World War II. He then married the German Princess June 21, 1949 at the Castle Burg Hohenzollern in Hechingen. So long story short, I was named after the patron saint of music AND a princess who was married to a man who helped to save art masterpieces that had been stolen by the Nazis during World War II. I feel so very honored.

As I write this blog, I am watching "The Monuments Men" for the first time. It was directed by George Clooney and written and produced by Clooney and Grant Heslov. The film has an all star cast of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cat Blanchett. It is based on a true story but the names of the Monuments Men have been changed.

As I am watching the movie, I am not at all surprised that Hitler reminds me so much of Trump. Hitler was a failed art student. As part of his takeover, he wanted all of the western masterpieces stolen for his cultural complex in his hometown of Linz, Austria. In July 1944, Claire Simone, a curator in occupied France, was forced to assist Nazi officer Viktor Stahl in overseeing the theft of art for Hitler. President Roosevelt was persuaded to assemble an army unit nicknamed the "Monuments Men," comprising museum directors, curators, art historians, and an architect, to both guide allied units and search for stolen art to return it to its rightful owners. 

Clyde Harris died in Amarillo of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 39 on March 2, l958. Cecilie died in May l975 in Taunus, Germany, while visiting relatives.

So back to my name. I went by my first name, Cecelia, until junior high school and decided I liked Christina better for many reasons. One of them being that the song "Cecilia" by Simon & Garfunkel was popular in 1970. I was in the 9th grade. Having classmates singing the lyrics to the song in the hallways of Horace Mann Jr High was extremely disheartening.

Making love in the afternoon with Cecilia
Up in my bedroom
I got up to wash my face
When I come back to bed someone's taken my place

Horace Mann Jr High is now called Mann Middle School

The biggest reason I wanted the name change was that my family called me Cecil, as in Cecil B. DeMille. But friends in the Texas Panhandle pronounced it Ceeeeecil. I hated it. With a passion. So when I moved to New Mexico for my junior year of high school, I started a new life using my middle name, Christina. Even to this day, my family hasn't been able to go along with that name change so they call me CiCi. My sister completely changed her name from Josie Ann to Nita in 2nd grade and nobody ever questioned it. Go figure. Oh well, CiCi works for me. 

I posted this photo of my mom today on facebook because it is her birthday. Davy Delgado commented that he sure did miss her. So, the thought of writing about the name she gave to me surfaced again.

Davy and my mom were close. His dad was her favorite cousin, but more importantly, Davy and mom appreciated each others love of writing. She used to send Davy's articles to me from the Santa Rosa News. Today Davy said "Most of her contemporaries frequently wondered how people in the future could be able to relate with other without the art of letter writing."

That's one of those synchronistic signs that the time had come to write an entry on my blog, which for me, has taken the place of letter writing. So this is my birthday present to you Mamma. I am writing! Thank you for passing down the love of writing to me, Christian and Ava. I love you.

Saint Cecilia
Patron Saint of Musicians

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

I dedicate this Mother's Day to my grandma,
Rosita Valdez Padilla

"The past is not a burden
It is a scaffold which brought us to this day.
We are free to be who we are 
To create our own life
Out of our past and out of the present.
We are our ancestors.
When we heal ourselves,
We also heal our ancestors,
Our grandmothers, 
Our grandfathers,
And our children.
When we heal ourselves, 
We heal Mother Earth. 

— Grandmother Rita Pitka Blumenstein

(Yupik), of the 13 International Indigenous Grandmothers Council