I loved living in New Mexico. Loved with a visceral
kind of love that let me know, even when flying in, that I had crossed the
border into the state. Maybe it was because my father was likely conceived
there and there is a genetic connection. Because, being raised in Oklahoma’s
Green Country, and loving the tall trees, the gravel bottomed rivers and
creeks, the dogwoods and redbuds that paint Spring with pink and white veils,
it would seem unlikely that I would love the high desert so.
Her name was Abbie, and when she was about eighteen she, her father, and some of her brothers, took a wagon, mules, seed, and farm equipment, and walked to Elida, New Mexico to homestead. That’s where she met my grandfather. He was living with one of his twin sisters in a dugout, teaching school. Abbie and Charles married there.
She told stories about being alone in the dugout when Indians, displaced and often starving, would come by. She would give them what she could. Bacon, she said. Terrified, I’m sure. But not hiding. She was a remarkable woman. Not always nice, but remarkable.
She always had time to play with us children. Endless hours of canasta, Chinese checkers, laughter. There was a covered glass dish on her coffee table filled with lemon drops. I still have it and I filled it with lemon drops this morning for my own grandchildren. Grandmas should always have lemon drops.