There was Crescencia and Madeline ... Tomasita, Margaret and Lupita.
And Evelyn -- my mother.
I remember spending Saturday afternoons with Mother at San Ildefonso or Santa Clara pueblo where she'd go to 'trade' with the Indians.
(To be honest, I was wildly UNenthusiastic, preferring to hide in the backseat with a comic book.)
A shy woman by nature, I've no idea how or what prompted her hobby. A self-proclaimed 'nervous' driver, still she'd navigate the twisty, narrow road off 'the Hill' in all sorts of weather to barter the contents of our Buick's trunk for their craft.
Long before Indian pottery became fashionable, our apartment started to fill with pottery, soft leather goods and hand-crafted drums.
A few real friendships developed.
Over the years, mother was gifted with a gorgeous squash-blossom necklace and matching belt .... but the greatest gift was her unlikely friendship with Lupita.
Apart from a shared birth year, their differences were many. But, I suspect each recognized the other's tendency to look for best in people.
|Lupita and family, 1955|
When or why mother stopped going, I couldn't say. I suppose it was just one of those things.
Then, in May 2000 an impromptu suggestion turned into something neat!
As an 83rd birthday surprise, I'd been planning a trip back to New Mexico for months. We never could have imagined the Cerro Grande fire, would (obviously) impact our plans to visit friends in Los Alamos.
Then, "Why don't we take a drive to San Ildefonso? Perhaps Lupita is still there."
Instead of the almost-inconspicuous dirt road leading off the highway, here was a modern paved affair, not far from a garish casino - leading to an equally modern gift shop. My heart sank.
Putting on my best game face, I explained our mission to an associate... who looked startled, but agreed to consult another. Finally, an older gentleman gestured my direction: "Yes, Lupita is still here; she has agreed to see you."
14 years later I still get a bit teary-eyed remembering the ladies sweet reunion. Her children were summoned ..... everyone's words tumbled, one over another.
Prior to saying 'good-bye', Lupita's son confided, "I never forgot her, you know. I couldn't remember her name, but I'd ask my mother, 'When is the lady in red lipstick coming back to see us?'."
Later, mother shared that seeing Lupita was the 'best' part of our trip. I'm pretty sure they never had occasion to speak again, but fond memories never really die.