I grew up in the Chihuahua desert of Texas, in El Paso. Don’t nobody make any rude comments about Texas. Us Texicans are as proud and patriotic a bunch as you’d ever want to meet. There was a time I thought it was God’s forsaken land, but an almost complete stranger helped me see the beauty that is in the desert, too.
There’s few brilliant sunsets anywhere else like there is in the desert. When the cactus come to life, there are few flowers as esquisite as that bloom an a prickly, ugly cactus. When it rains in the desert, there is a bush called the Creosote that opens the gates of heaven and Jesus’ fragrance is everywhere. You’ve heard stories about children that have near death experiences and they tell their loved ones that they smelled Jesus? You better believe it! It was the fragrance of His creation, the Creosote Bush! That, my friend, is “the fragrance after the rain.” (from the hymn, “Jesus, There’s Something About that Name”)
Unfortunately, most of my growing up years were not happy ones. At the time, of course, I thought that’s the way things were. My mom was quite affectionate with me but my sperm donor was hardly ever around. The other adult that lived with was was my mother’s mother. I suppose you could call her my other parent. She watched me while my mom worked and she’d instill her brand of discipline.
I remember one time, the old crone tried to get me to come into the house from the back yard. I steadfastly defied her and when she threw a rock at me, I picked it up and threw it back at her. She went back in the house and I went around to the front stairs and waited for my mom to come home.
My mom asked me why I was on the stairs and I told her the doors were all locked, which they were. She must have had her key because when we went in, we found her mother in bed covered with a few pounds of blankets and moaning and groaning. After my mom came out of her room, she asked me if it was true that I had hit her with a rock. No, I hadn’t hit her! I had thrown a rock but it missed her by a mile. I’ve never been able to his the broad side of a barn with a base fiddle! Well, seems the old crone accused me of having hit her in a kidney and now she was in great pain. I don’t remember if my mom believed me or if there were any repurcussions. Eventually, the old woman felt it was time to function again. I still can’t imagine why I didn’t go next door to one of my aunt’s house.
I was a terrible student throughout my school years. I grew up thinking that I was just plain stupid because very little stuck in my brain… if it ever got in to begin with. I was teased and ridiculed by fellow students and some teachers were downright abusive to me.
My first grade teacher smacked my claves with a ruler hard enough to leave whelts that my mom could see when I went home for lunch. All because I had done more of my paper than what I was supposed to do.
My third grade teacher purposely kept me after school on Wednesdays because she knew I had piano lessons on that day.
Things at home were impossible for me to condend with, so during the summer of my ninth year, I spent it convincing my mom that I should go to boarding school for the experience. After all, hadn’t she been raised in boarding school? I succeeded and I was off to Harwood School for Girls in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I only lasted one semester. Having to take care of myself at 10 yrs old was more than I wanted to do, given the fact that there was a set of twins in my dorm that took a disliking to me for some reason; maybe because I didn’t have a father? Somehow, they knew my mom was a divorced woman. What they didn’t know was that he had died the year previous.
I remember well the afternoon my mom told me about it. We were having one of those spectacular sunsets. She and I were walking from my piano teacher’s house to the bus stop. My mom made up a wonderful story about that sunset and how God must have the gates of heaven open and that was His light shining through the gates. When I asked her why the gates were open she told me that it was to let my dad in to be with Him. I started to cry and she made me stop. She told me girls don’t cry besides my dad was in God’s presence and there’s no better place to be. I didn’t care! All I cared about was that I wouldn’t ever get to see my dad again even though I hardly saw him anyway. Now all hope was gone.
When I went home for Christmas that year, I knew I wouldn’t be going back to boarding school. My favorite cousin, Bobby, found out and called me a baby. He told me he was going back to seminary. My answer was “Yeah, but you’re grown up and I’m not.” He insisted that I should go back but nothing was going to change my mind. I can still see his beautiful face with it’s beautiful smile to this day. I didn’t know it at the time, but he knew exactly why I needed to be out of my home. He had been my safe person at a very crucial moment but that memory was tucked away in a very deep, dark place.
or what led up to it, anyway.
My mom and sperm donor had been vacationing at some beach resort in Mexico. After swimming, my mom hung up their bathing attire on the clothes lines provided on the roof of the hotel. This was before dryers were invented… probably during January of 1943.
Anyway, my mom went up to the roof to gather their swim suits and she grabbed one with her right hand to feel if it was dry. Suddenly she felt a sharp stab in her right wrist. It was a scorpion and the are poisonous in the tropics. She was taken to a hospital and given anti-venom. My mom recovered quite nicely but the nausea wouldn’t go away. For a while, she thought it was an after-effect of the scorpion sting, then she thought maybe she may have a uterine tumor. You see, when she was born, as the story goes, her mother was standing up when my mother was born, and suffered a dislocated hip that wasn’t attended to until she was about six or seven. She had been told it would be impossible for her to become pregnant because her hips were too tipped.
When Mom complained to the doctor that she thought she might have a tumor, the doctor said “Well, let’s see if the tumor has feet and hands. Sure enough! It wasn’t a tumor. It was me! I fooled everybody. My mom’s egg wasn’t only fertized naturally but I was born naturally, too. That curve in the birth canal didn’t pose any problems for a seven pound, tough little baby girl like me!
My first memory is of regecting my mom’s breast because there was a long black hair on it! EEWWW! Hair! Somehow I conveyed my displeasure to her and the hair was removed.
My second earliest memory was when I was two or so. My “parents,” who were to be my mother and her mother were going out shopping and I got a burr in my saddle. I didn’t want to go so I pitched a fit in the middle of the front room. My “parents” pretended to leave and left me pitching my fit. When the front door closed, I scrambled behind the wine colored, overstuffed chair in the corner and wondered what would happen while they were gone. Of course, I didn’t wonder long. My mom came back, took my hand firmly and we walked to the bus stop.