In the early afternoon on Monday, Kate took us on a trip up and down Memory Lane. First, she drove us to the house on Cherry Street where we lived when we first moved to Clayton. The house is located across from the Clayton High School Stadium.
Next, Katie drove us to the house on Maple Street where we moved a year later. This sight of this house conjures up memories for me—of my senior year, of my graduation and my present from the parish priest of St. Francis Xavier Church at the time, Father Robert Hammond: a gallon of altar wine that Julaine Hamilton and I drank part of and which turned me off wine for at least a decade. I left home to go to UNM while my family lived in this house, and I got married for the first time and had a small reception in this house. Also, my son Shane was born while my family lived in this house.
Next, Katie drove us out to Clayton Lake, and Mom remembered the many times when Dee Watters, who had taken her and her kids under her wing as soon as we arrived in Clayton, would pick up Mom and Jason in her car when a storm came up and drive out to her ranch to watch the sky and see how much rain was falling.
Finally, Katie drove us back to town to see if Bill Watters happened to be at home. As luck would have it, Bill was home and came out to Katie’s car to visit so that we didn’t have to get Mom into her wheelchair. Bill is 92 years old, but he doesn’t look it at all. He’s tall and slim, and his only complaint is that he has a condition that makes his feet numb, so he has to be careful as he walks. He still goes out to his ranch to check on his cows, he said, and is too proud to use a cane, but he does use a staff when he walks in the countryside.
On our drive along Cherry Street earlier, we had passed the houses of sisters Kathryn Vigil Garcia and Margrett Vigil Wagner, my ex-sister-in-law and my daughter Shelley’s namesake. (Shelley's real name is Margrett Michelle.) So when our tour was over and we returned to Kate’s house, I called Katherine—with whom Margrett is now living—to see if I could come over for a short visit. Yes, she said, come over, and I did.
How good it was to see them! Margrett has health problems that require her to be on oxygen much of the time, but she looked good to me, and so did Kathryn. I could only spend about 40 minutes with them because Kate, Gary, Mom, and I were expected soon at Sue and Charlie’s house for supper, but we had enough time to exchange information about our kids and grandkids. And I got to see Margrett’s daughter Lisa’s (Phipps) three sons and meet her son Scott’s wife and two of their daughters in the short time I was there. But drat! I didn’t get any photos.
That evening at Sue and Charlie’s, we visited a bit and took some pictures before supper. Characteristically, Charlie refused to smile despite Sue’s cajoling. Soon we sat down to a meal of some of my favorite foods from childhood: meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, excellent bread with good butter, garden-grown tomatoes and cucumbers, and chocolate pudding with half-and-half or Cool-Whip for dessert. My, it was good. Sue’s meatloaf tasted like the meatloaf my mother used to make, but Mom insisted hers never tasted this good.
After supper, Sue, Mom, Kate, and I sat around the table visiting while the men did dishes. It started raining then, and pretty soon it started to hail. We went to the door, and Gary and Sue left the porch to pick up samples. Sue showed them to Mom, who popped one into her mouth.
The hail lasted for maybe 45 minutes and got to the size of steely marbles, making such a racket on the roof that at one point it was hard to hear people talk. Someone turned on the TV, and we heard that a tornado warning had been issued for Clayton, but it ended soon after that.
When the hail stopped finally, we took advantage of the lull to get into our cars and drive back to Kate and Gary’s.
Mom went to bed not long after that, and Kate and Gary got into the hot tub. I sat in a chair next to the tub (I had cleverly left my swimsuit at home so I wouldn’t have to get into it), and we talked, drank our nightcaps and looked at the stars. The Milky Way spread across the sky, and I could easily find the Big and Little Dippers. Katie asked me about the W constellation, but I couldn’t remember the name of it. Today, I did a Google search and found its name: Cassiopeia.
And soon, after a long eventful day, to bed.
When I woke on Wednesday, I found that Kate in the kitchen pulling some wonderful bran-nut muffins out of the oven. She—svelte thing that she is—ate one plain. I ate both of mine with the requisite amount of butter--that is to say, LOTS--and O! they were delicious!
When Mom got up, the three of us—Gary had already gone to work—sat and talked a bit, and Mom continued to look over the pictures and mementos Kate had gotten out for her to see. We were slow to get ready to leave for Albuquerque, Mom and I. We'd had such a pleasant time.
Kate took one more picture of us, and then Mom and I got into my car and took off for town, where I bought gas. Then we headed west on Highway 56 toward Springer.
Four-and-a-half hours later, we were back in Albuquerque. Fred, my cat, had managed to survive my absence with seemingly little distress. He still had food and water in the bowls I’d left outside for him, and he didn’t seem miffed at me when I brought him in for some succulent canned cat food.