Saturday, January 30, 2010

Uncle Alfonso Part 3, Auntie's tale

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.


  1. What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I love these old family tales. Do tell more.

  2. That is a beautiful story and I don't know why but it brought a tear to my eye, it is a story of true magic.

  3. I am so enjoying these stories. Once again your words transported to their little property with heaps of food growing. Thank you.

  4. I love old family tales too! Thank you!

  5. Love this story. Did she attend the Loretto Academy here in El Paso, one of my old alma maters, or was there another in NM? I know there was a large community of the Sisters of Loretto in Santa Fe...St. Joseph built the beautiful staircase, so the story goes.

    Anyway, I truly believe in such visions. Maybe I'll write a blog about my experience with St. Theresa, but she has visited me many times in times of great sorrow and sadness...she assures me all is well by the scent of her roses!

    No, I haven't been hitting the sauce anymore than usual, but these "little miracles" are true.

    Love ya, B&G,

    The word in "poonesse." Excuse me, but would you please move your fat poonesse out of my way!"

  6. Thanks for your praise ladies. I really enjoy passing these stories along to all of you. At least someone else will have them then.
    Georgina: She went to Santa Fe to school. I believe in the visions as well or else I wouldn't have included this one. There are a couple of others that I have on the table to retell so please give us yours too.
    Wintertime, which is what we in the northern Hemi are right now, even if we want it to be spring, is when families and communities got together as best as they could and storytelling was the focus. So my, lovelies, let's enjoy the beauty and lessons taught this time of year.

  7. That´s a great story Linda,
    and you are an awesome story teller!
    There is a film playing in my head right now.
    Lots of love

  8. I loved the story, Linda. It is a story of magic, happiness, and love. I, too, believe in visions. My sweet mother has had St. Theresa visits on many occasions. She always is hesitant to tell me, fearing I will think she is losing it. But, I do believe her. I think there are many things in this life that happen to us that we completely "miss". We need to open our hearts and our minds in order to "see", and we have to fight the fear.
    Wonderful story, Linda!!!
    ♥ audrey

  9. ~oh how i LOVE the way you entice us and share such beauty that lay within your family...such a lovely story you have shared with uus and i am with mary please do tell more...brightest blessings~


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