In part one, I shared with you, background information on my Uncle's better half, as he always called her, my Aunt Maria. To further your understanding, let me tell you that she was one of 6 children. 5 girls and 1 boy. She was the second oldest girl and in her words "the ugliest". Not true. I only met three of her sisters and saw pictures of her brother and none of them were ugly. They were a very typical working family from northern New Mexico. They had a piece of land and the family all had chores to do to make the living for the family.
I am one of 5 people in the world who even know this story. Well maybe more if you count priests, because I am sure that she would have confessed to this several times in her life. My Sweet Man and I had gone over to see Uncle Fancy ( so called because Shelley couldn't say Alfonso when she was little and called him Fancy instead) and Aunt Marie one summer afternoon. They were on there back patio having a cold drink and looking over their "mini" fields. After moving to town from the ranch both of them missed the life and so planted just as they had at the ranch. Pinto beans, herba buena, chile, apple, peach and pear trees, grapes both red and green. All this in a very compact space with a little storage house that they had put memorabilia like horse trees, ropes, pans from round ups and all manner of "stuff" from their life at the ranch. They missed it very much.
So we joined them on the back porch, where there was a basket of red grapes on the table. Uncle says to Auntie, you'd better put those away before you see St. Teresa in the basket. I had never seen her get angry before, but she picked up the basket and turned and went into the house. He looked very sad after his remark and asked me to see to her.
I went in and she was standing and staring out of the kitchen window with a far away look on her face. That's when she told me this story.
On this particular day, Auntie M (sounds a bit like Wizard of Oz huh?) and her older sister were picking grapes on the side of their house. Her father called her sister Maggie to come help him with the horses and Auntie was left to finish the grapes. As she picked she said she was sad because the school term had started and she hated the one room school she attended because she had already read all the books and done all the math and would just have to sit and help the others. She wanted to learn more because she just knew there had to be more.
When she picked up the basket, she saw something glowing under the top layer of grapes. Moved the top bunch and saw, in her words, the most beautiful face she had ever seen. The face of a woman with kind brown eyes, long brown hair and a tender, warm smile when she spoke to Auntie in spanish. She told Auntie that she would see more and learn more and be more than she hoped. Auntie told no one. Who would believe her anyway? And what if what she had seen was not what she thought it to be? Could God be a woman? But to a little Catholic girl, she was sure she was wrong.
Time passed and school began and Auntie and all the others started back to the one room. Her Dad made his monthly trip to Santa Fe for supplies and life went on as usual or so she thought. On his visit it was the habit of her father to stop to see the district priest and make confession. Afterwards, he and the priest would go to have a beer (that always cracked me up) and discuss life in Sapallo. The topic of school came up and the priest said he had been given a very generous offer of a full scholarship to the Loretto Academy for girls and would he be interested in sending one of his daughters? Now reader, remember, it took all the members of the family to make a living for the family, so to let one of his girls go to school and live away from the family was a hardship. But her father, being the lover of knowledge that he was agreed and went home to tell Maggie that she was going away to school. Afterall she was the oldest.
The day came for Maggie to leave and Maria and the rest all gathered to wish her well and say goodbye. After her trunk was put on the wagon, off they went to Loretto. Auntie said she was off to the chicken house for a good cry when she heard the most awful screaming and crying. Here came her sister running and crying....I can't leave Mame, I don't want to go away, followed by her father driving the wagon like a crazy man in a cloud of dust.
Her father was not going to be embarrassed by his silly daughter and ordered Maria into the wagon. If Maggie wasn't going then she was. Her mother begged her father to let her pack Maria's clothes and things but he said what was in the trunk would have to do and off they went.
Auntie graduated from Loretto at the top of her class. Went on to teach hundreds of children, go to Europe and other parts of the US all before settling down in a small ranching community back in New Mexico.
In all those years, she was grateful to the "angel", Goddess, whoever it was for changing her life, but never told the story for fear of what people would think of her. When her older sister Maggie became blind, infirmed and aged, Auntie M took her in and cared for her in her home. She held her hand and cared for her sister in true loving kindness until the moment of her death. Aunt Marie then said she had paid her debt to her sister for the wonderful life that Maggie had given her.
I think the story has more magick than any of us will ever know and I only wish my Auntie M could have shared it with more people.