Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I love...

...where I live, and I love my family.

Once in awhile, I see something nearby to us that makes me giddy, thinking, "I actually live here! Whoa!"

The route we took goes through some of the best places on the planet, not to mention in Colorado. Namely, Ouray, Silverton, and Durango.

When going from here to Farmington, NM, you can choose from two routes. The Red Mountain route or the Moab, Utah route. Both are lovely to look at, but for different reasons. This is why I like the Red Mountain route:


You can see why it's called Red Mountain. And can you see the ghost town in the foothills? Here's a closer look:

Nifty old buildings that are the remnants of a mine and mining town. You can take a Jeep trail to it, if you like. Too cool.

And speaking of cool, they have some snow already, too:

You just gotta love it. Well, at least, I do. Son wasn't so fond of the Million Dollar Highway, as we skirted the edge of cliffs without a guard rail in sight. Did I mention, he's afraid of heights?

We stopped in Ouray and Durango on the way, and Silverton on the way home. I could have spent days there. I noted some of the old hotels, for later getaways with Ranger. I love the "old West" kind of towns. I love the ghost towns nearby.

Silverton is particularly intriguing to me, with it's old mining town history. You know what fascinates me? The history of the brothels and bordellos there. The women who ran them scratched our their own kind of power in the town, using what they had to bargain with. The place was full of men who would do anything to enjoy a woman, and the woman who could supply that carried a certain clout in the town. Yes, there's a seedy and unpleasant side to this history, too, but that's the fascinating double-edged sword of it.

But our primary destination was Farmington. Here's a picture that I took near our hotel. It illustrates Farmington pretty well. (Hint: Look at this pic full-size, so you can read the signs.)


So, we headed to the events surrounding my great-uncle's funeral. He'd been sick for a long time, and took a sudden turn last week. I was told that he told everyone that day, "I'm going today," and that he was just waiting for his older brother to come. His older brother died several years ago.

This uncle was a twin, and the youngest two of nine children. These twins are good ol' cowboys, with the hard living that come with the territory. The other twin survives him, as does one sister. His twin lives behind the mortuary and just a stone's throw from the church. So, we all gathered there, at his brother's home.

Of my dad's siblings and their families, we were the only ones to come. My kids were disappointed because that meant no one their age would be there. However, they sat among the old family, listening to the stories. Had other kids been there, they would have missed this.

They've heard the stories from my dad. Now, they heard the stories from everyone else's perspective. "Yeah," my uncle (the other twin) said. "I remember he was too small to get in the stock tank himself when we went swimming. We just picked him up and threw him in."

My dad laughed. "You all corrupted me at an early age!" And they all laughed. The twins were a handful, to say the least. My dad would spend summers with them at his grandparents' home. The little house with the hand pump for water and wax paper for windows. A hard but simple life, and good memories for my dad.

I got re-acquainted with people who remember me as a child. They see my children and are shocked, as they think of me as the little one they baby sat. More than once this weekend, my mother said to me, "This is so-and-so. She used to change your diapers!" My kids laughed at that, knowing I liked to embarrass them by saying such things!

My kids had quite an education during this short trip, as they realized what characters share their blood. These aren't just names anymore, but distinct personalities! And they saw me as someone else. A granddaughter. A niece. A cousin. They heard about me from people who remembered me as a child, and who are proud of the woman I am now.

I got to visit with my great aunt, too. She's a delightful woman, and I adore her. But visiting with her is a bittersweet experience for me. See, I lost my grandmother very suddenly in 1988. She was 56 years old. She was always a young grandmother; I was the first grandchild and was born when she was 35. The surviving aunt and uncle I mentioned are her brother and sister.

So, my great aunt has a striking resemblance to my grandmother. Her features, the way she talks, the way her eyes sparkle, her facial expressions....she gives me flashbacks to being a child, sitting on the stepstool in the corner of my grandmother's kitchen. Watching and listening and talking, and knowing I was the most important thing in her world at that moment, as she laughed at all my little stories.

I miss her so very much, even now -- 20 years later -- I remember the shock and grief of being told she was gone.

And my great aunt misses her, too. And we talk and focus on each other, and feel the way she made us feel. And I get to see her face, just a bit, again.

I see her in my great uncle's face, too. His laugh is hers, and I know it's also mine. When I'm with this family, I feel the "one-ness" of our blood.

The funeral was short and sweet. My great uncle's girlfriend sat in the front. She took care of him for 15 years. she was certainly part of the family now, too.

We gathered in a family room before the service started, for one last viewing. As we walked in, I realized my kids had never seen a dead person before. They were a little stunned. It was obvious he'd been sick for awhile. He looked nothing like I remembered. I'm glad the program had a picture in it from before his illness. I included it here. He had kind eyes, like my grandmother.

He was buried with his cowboy hat.

As the family filed out of the chapel, behind the casket, my great aunt touched the hands of those she passed. She came to me, pulled me to her, and kissed my cheek. That meant the world to me.

The trip was long and difficult, but deeply satisfying. I can put up with this kind of exhaustion.

9 comments:

Fishsticks and Fireflies said...

Blogget - That was so beautifully written! My Dad's side of the family are all quite old and my Mom's side is in disarray - it saddens me to know that my children will most likely never get the expereince that yours had this past weekend - it is so amazing to know where you come from and to see people who know you as more than just what your children see.

The pictures are gorgeous! I can't wait until the kids are a little bit older and we can explore more of the state with them!

Ronjazz said...

The middle Red Mountain shot has an echo of Ansel Adams in it. What a great view!

Blogget Jones said...

F&F -- Thank you! It was quite an experience and I struggled to find words to capture it. And you'll have so much fun when you're able to explore this area with your kids! It's amazing!

Ron -- Thank you! I see what you mean now. The views on this drive are indescribably beautiful. I was glad I wasn't driving because the roads are windy and you can't look around!

Thanks :o)

BJ

Walker said...

Great post and beautiful view of where you live.

Its good the boys got to sit with the old crowd and experience the past through their eyes.
Technology has taken alot away from what I had when i was a kid. The stories our parents and other relatives would share.

D-HOR said...

Blogget - I'm sorry about your uncle but I'm glad you had a good closing time. I'm so very glad for the wonderful time you had with your family.

The pictures! Oh beautiful! It's great that you are aware of how lucky you are not only with your family but in where you live.

Real Live Lesbian said...

It's so sad that a lot of us only get together with the older ones in our family at funerals. I am glad that you got to visit with them. It's going to break my heart when my aunts and uncles die.

I love the Jesus sign. I had no idea he liked to watch porn with me!

Blogget Jones said...

D-HOR -- Thank you! It was an up and down trip, but I'm so thankful for it!

RLL -- I know what you mean, about the heartbreak. I'm dreading that. I need to spend more time with them now!

And LOL about the sign! I had the same thought! Ranger said the only thing he'd be in trouble for if he went to one of those shops was if he didn't bring me or being me a present!

;o) BJ

Sparx said...

Wow, another great post, moving and beautiful and hey, those pics... you live somewhere really amazing you do.

Blogget Jones said...

Thank you, Sparx! it was quite a time....

:o) BJ