The past 10 days, I’ve flown from Florida to Denver, driven 200 miles to my mother’s home with my sister and son, filtered through mountains of paperwork, pulling out the memories my mother saved, tossed 20 tall kitchen garbage bags, filled 30 boxes of things I couldn’t part with, carefully added a few pieces of furniture and ironwork my late father handcrafted, and now I’m driving a 16’ moving truck (with my 37-year-old son as wingman) the 2,400 miles back to the county where I was born and my husband, 90-year-old mother, and dogs are waiting for me.
Visiting a Sacred Place
The last thing we did before my sister flew back to Orlando was to walk up to the clearing among the rocks where Mom and I spread my father’s ashes in 2015. Just last year I could still see remnants in the dry desert soil. Now it seemed the landscape had changed the past twelve months, but I found my intersecting landmarks; a dead piñon pine and the outcropping where my husband and I exchanged our marriage vows exactly three years ago. A sagebrush had doubled in size just outside the small circle rimmed with rocks, placed with love and care. Each of us scooped up a few spoonfuls of sand to take home, placing them in emptied spice containers from the kitchen cabinet. I thought, “The remnants of the spice or herb will add an exotic hint when we open them later.”
Leaving is Hard for Everyone
Neighbors helped us load our belongings in the rented moving truck, handshakes and hugs completed the task. One special friend remained behind, visiting in the living room where she had listened to my Mother’s stories about Florida and the many backpacking and later RV trips she and my Dad had taken over the 65 years they were together. The friend and I held each other tight, soothing our sobs with mutual back rubs. We dried our tears on our sleeves and as I held the screen door, she said, “Text me every morning and night you are on the road. And give Sue a big hug from me!”
One Last Look
With the truck packed, we could have jumped in and started our journey. We were drawn to the high rock behind the house, dubbed La Garita Rock by the locals.
Larry said, “Let’s make one more trip up there, Mom.”
I found an old cane to steady myself as I carefully placed my hiking boots amongst the prickly pear and hedgehog cactus with their bright orange-red blossoms opening in the waning light. Working slowly toward the summit, we turned and surveyed the view. The northern section of the San Luis Valley laid out before us, the Great Sand Dunes clearly seen 60 miles to the east at the base of the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Just below us to the left stood the house my parents lived in during their retirement of 30 years. Moving toward the right I saw the historic church just outside the gate to my parent’s property, Capilla San Juan Bautista. The new red metal roof in sharp contrast to the white stucco on the thick adobe walls. Just beyond, the metal gate of the Carnero Creek Cemetery with scores of white crosses within.
The place will pass from the Anderson’s to the next family, but the memories and friends we’ve made will always live in our hearts. I know I’ll return soon…