Friday, June 5, 2015

Fate is a Calamity of Miscalculations

“What numbskull claimed vacations were for relaxation and fun?” I strongly begged to differ .
Our vacation from Texas to New Mexico started out great. My one-year old son, my husband and I borrowed my mother-in-laws Cadillac, since it was a newer and more reliable car then ours.
“What do you mean you didn’t book any reservations?”
“We don’t need them at this time of year. It’s summer.”
That was the beginning of our downfall.
Half way to New Mexico our son took sick, running a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea. We arrived at the halfway mark which was Amarillo and found to our dismay that a huge convention was in town. No room at the inns as they say. Carefully sidestepping I told you so; we decided to travel on to Red River.
I assumed driving once we began the trek through the mountains of New Mexico. I am not comfortable with heights nor do I like two-lane roads where our side could plummet down the mountainside. One hour of driving at a near vertical angle, the rear axle decides to drop off the car just as I am making a curve and flies off the mountain. Both hands glued to the steering wheel, I succeeded to maneuver the car to the shoulder.
“What the heck are you doing?” hubby yelled, startling the baby.
“I’m shoving you off the side of this cliff.” I retorted as I attempted to calm our son down.
At two in the morning my husband is attempting to assess the damage with a flashlight.
 “Finally”, he said, as my husband flagged down a car of drunken young men who promised to call for a wrecker. Realize this was before cell phones.
“You sure they will be able to tell them where we are even if they remember?” Hubby climbed back in and glared in my direction.
Two long hours later, a huge diesel wrecker arrives. “I can take you to the next town but the car goes with me to Angel Fire”.
We arrive in town and find there are no vacancies. The truck driver has been feeling me up the entire trip since I had to sit between him and my husband who was holding our baby. I chose not to bash him in the head since we needed to find shelter for the night, but after several attempts to find shelter, I was willing to throw ourselves at the mercy of the police and spend the night in a cell.
The very last place, nestled at the far edge of the town, was timeshare condos. A young manager, who hailed from Texas, took pity and he let us sleep in his living room and the next day located us an empty condo. I had no sooner unpacked and put my son down for his nap when the owners of the condo show up unexpectedly and we are asked to move. I cried so hard that the owners bought us steaks for moving out of their condo.
Once settled, I took our boy to the only doctor in town.
“What do you mean you can’t write prescriptions?”
“I’m a medic ma’am. Now if your son had a broken leg…”
“My son is running a temp of 104F from strep throat. Where is the doctor?”
He called a doctor in Angel Fire, who after speaking with our pediatrician in Dallas, wrote a prescription and sent it by courier. His immune system didn’t respond to oral medications so I had no choice but to bring him in twice a day for shots.
While my husband was out gallivanting with the manager, I decided to make a nice dinner for us and light a romantic fire in the fireplace. I forgot to open the flue and soon smoke filled the apartment and set off all the fire alarms. The fire department arrived with a parade of squad cars wailing sirens. Once I explained, the patrons were allowed to return to their rooms. A fireman opened the flue and another all the windows to let out the smoke, shaking their heads at what I am sure they considered a dumb blonde stunt.
I continued preparing dinner, when I noticed something small scamper through the kitchen with a duplicate in close proximity. Following virtually in their shadows was a large tabby cat in pursuit. After they collided with my son’s highchair, they set their course for the bedroom. By the time I high-tailed it after them; I realized it was two chipmunks. The romantic gauzy night gown I had laid out a on the bed was now shredded by claws and strew on the floor. The little rascals managed to climb all the way to the ceiling fan with a howling cat jumping on the bed trying hard to reach them. Hubby and the manager came back, trapping all the critters and placing them back outdoors.
The insistent ringing of the phone had my husband running for the rectangle object. Phone in hand I heard my husband exclaim, “Six hundred bucks. It won’t be ready until when?”
We started planning a flight for me. After learning I would switch planes three times, I decided to call work and explain to them I would return as soon as possible.
When the car was returned, we were charged for two tows and the imported wheel axle from Colorado. Broke and beaten, we packed and left. At the halfway point the convention was still going strong so we decided to drive straight home. Several miles out of the large city, our tire blew out. The spare in the trunk was no good so my husband had to hike to a garage and buy a used tire. Took him two hours to get back and the garage didn’t even put it on.
My husband asked me where I wanted to go on vacation next year. I glared at him and responded “My own back yard”.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Coming to America

Photo from

     The winds blew hard, pitching the massive ship side-to-side.  The vessel tossed from the waves while sea water rushed over the sides and onto the decks.  Men scurried around the surface, grasping any object to keep themselves from being washed overboard.  The night sky gave no light to guide the way.

     People stranded in the hold slid aft and fro along with barrels or boxes not tied securely.  Children and babies cried.  Men stood, some tying themselves to beams with their belts or hemp, determined to grab anyone or anything heading in harm’s way. The smell below was rancid with sweat, vomit and other excrements as well as rotten foods and waterlogged clothing.

    Three young women sat huddled deep within the aft of the ship on the starboard side.  The oldest tied them together at their sashes to avoid separation.  They had been on this vessel for over a week and had little food left to share.  The youngest, Theresa Rose, had taken sickly the night before, with a hacking cough and high fever.  Her sisters, Lucille and Annunciacao cuddled her body between them to ward off the chill, cloaking her from the water falling from above.  The darkness shrouded the occupants and the air was stale from the lack of circulation from above. 

     Their hopes and spirits were high when the first set sail from Spain.  Although their reason for traveling was to locate their mother who stranded them in Portugal, as young women they hoped to achieve new starts in one of the endless cities.  Each girl wore a gold cross around their necks along with Saint Christopher medals for safe travel.  Being consigned to the hold was acceptable because they were free to walk the upper decks during the daylight to get a bit of air and sun.   The vast ocean stretched the horizon.  Rarely did they catch a glimpse of any other vessel.

     “Lucille, what will we do if we can’t find mama or papa?  America is so big.”  Theresa worried her rosary beads clutched in her hands.

     “Don’t fret little one.  America is large but Providence Rhode Island is not.  That is where papa lives with his new family.  If he doesn’t know where mama is, we have many family members living there who can help us.”

     “Papa made it very clear that he didn’t want us.  Why ask him?” Annunciacao said, peeved at both of their parents for abandoning them.

     “I’m sure that we can survive a week or two at his home until we find mama and move in with her.  He may not want us, but mama will welcome us.” Lucille protested.

     Theresa began to cry so the sisters stopped their squabble and talked about more pleasant things.

     After three days with no more than bread crust to share and the storm holding firm, Theresa’s health faded.  The sisters prayed that the squall would soon pass.  Theresa lapsed into a fever induced coma and nothing the girls did would awaken her.  The cough racked her small chest and she wheezed with each breath.

     “We can’t let her die, Lucille.  You saw what they did with the old woman who passed away two nights ago.  They just threw her overboard.  I don’t want the same fate for our dear sister.”

     “Hush now, Theresa is young and strong.  Once the weather clears and we can go above, I will ask for some broth for her.  The sun will assist in her healing.   You shall see.  She wants to see America so much I can’t see her giving up.”

     The next day broke through the clouds and the rains stopped.  Everyone was anxious to stretch their legs above, hurrying up the ladders as quickly as the space allowed.

     The girls grasped Theresa under her arms, carrying her thin body to the surface.  They set her near the tall, belching chimney sending smoke trailing behind the ship.  The air blew cool but the sun was warm and soon dried their moldy smelling dresses.  Lucille left to locate some food or broth, carrying with her the few coins in their possession.  Although she was successful, neither sister could get Theresa to eat.  So they dipped chucks of hard rolls into the broth and ate their meal.

     When it came time for them to go below, Theresa’s eyes opened and a glow lit her face.  “It is so beautiful.  I don’t hurt anymore.”

     Both sisters looked at the ravaged form of their beloved sister.  Her body shook from the fever and each worried that she was now delirious. 

     Theresa told them she loved them and to not be afraid.  While their journeys would take them to special places and people, her journey was beginning on another plain of existence.  Looking to the sky, her smile radiant, she took her last breath and died in her sister’s arms.

     The ship’s captain allowed for a short funeral.  A priest on board gave Theresa last rites and a rosary was said in her honor.  Each sister kissed her goodbye and then the shipmates wrapped her in a rough piece of cloth and tossed her over the side.  Annunciacao stood stoic, watching her sister sink below the waves.  Lucille cried, saddened that they hadn’t been able to save her.

     The very next day, the passengers cheered as they spotted their first site of America.  They gazed upon the Statue of Liberty which stood proud, awaiting her new guests to their new home.   The torch stood as a welcoming beacon to those who traveled to find a better life.  The two sisters paused, with arms linked about each other, and silently cried.  Each thought of Theresa and the secret she took with her when she died.  She saw where it was she was headed but could not share.  She did though share the secret that their journeys would be successful and full of hope and joy.  Walking off the plank hand in hand they faced America with their heads held high.
Note: This story is mostly true with a little literary license.  Hard times with truly courageous people.