Snow Flake Memories

The world in a beautiful white serine blanket of cold, cold snow can be deceiving. Looks pretty darn good looking through a thick window with a fire place keeping you warm.

The quiet solitude opens the mind and stories from the past appear like a ghost in a swirl of snow flakes bouncing, pushing, falling, gone, like lost memories.

Grandma told me a story about her younger cousin, Santiago Romero, whose parents had passed on and he was living with grandma’s grandparents, “he knew the ceremony..” Grandma said.

I could tell in her contemplation she could barely remember him. Grandma spoke, “As a young girl, I worked sometimes for Mr. Sua-sage at the mill in Taos Canyon. A rich couple that Mr. Sua-sage knew from Italy would come and visit him in the summer. My grandpa and grandma became pretty good friends with the Italian couple who would visit different places around northern New Mexico. Grandpa would smoke smelly imported cigarros. They would bring presents for all of us and Grandma and the jolly lady would pass them out to us, jackets and shoes mostly, sometimes food from their home, Italian spices and a twisted cracker you cook called macaroni.

The couple didn’t have any children of their own and they would take us many places. Fishing in the Rio Grande, picking blueberries. Their favorite was Santiago who charmed them with his smile and his eagerness to learn Italian which was a bit like Spanish.

Grandma struggled in trying to remember the events. From what I can recall, she said, ” It was one late fall as they were leaving, the Italians asked if they could adopt my cousin Santiago. Santiago was about 9 years old and my Grandma didn’t want to give him up, however, Santiago really wanted to go with them. We would talk about what the Italians would tell him when we weren’t around.”

” Know what Browny?” said Santiago. He always called me Browny cause I was so dark.
“They’re gonna Baptise me in Ee tah leee.”
“Know what Browny?” smiling. ” They eat tasty snake-looking things called spas-geetee.”
“Know what Browny?” looking at his new shoes he said, “I think I want to go with them.”

Grandma baking bread, Aunty Annie grumbling, Grandpa on horse with baby Lance…

Grandma and Santiago chose to be in this world when the world was changing into what we know now. Dirt poor – 11 people of various ages living in the our Grandparents small two room adobe house, and in the summer, a one room farm house in the fields.

Sun-burnt, wind-burnt, brown skinned Pueblo kids helping with the corn-fields and the yearly events of life growing up in the Pueblo.

Grandma started her story again, “I remember we were coming home from the bean fields to the north, afternoon summer wind was picking up, Grandpa steered the wagon, pushed the old horses a little harder back to the Pueblo.Santiago’ s leaving today, with the Italian couple, finally bent grandma’s endurable back. Although it would be just for one year – that was the deal one year –
everyone was crying, hugging him like he wasn’t coming back home. Santiago held his Indian suit-case (a paper bag full off misc. things he owned). Those radical can’t-catch-your-breath crying was what big Aunty Lou was was getting into, although everything made her cry. Picking plums made her cry…Even the work horses hung their heads low, brown puppies stuck their heads out of their wooden boxes to see their little man leave.”

Grandma cried, “One year was what they said, but the world war came..”

“A year later the Italians and Santiago never returned to the Pueblo. My grandma kept asking Mr Sua-sage about them, but he had no answers for Grandma. The letters stopped, the Mill burnt down in the winter, Mr Sua-sage went south for the winter. He also never returned to the sangre de cristo’s montano’s…”

When Grandma told me the story she knew that she was the only one left of her time, “The swallows called to Santiago, the men came to talk with Grandpa to initiate him soon. He had a gift and they all knew that he could talk with the insects who knew the old forgotten songs. He tried to teach me but I forgot the ceremony.

Year after year we heard nothing, the war over the ocean was in full force. My body changed, I meet love and got married even the moon had a funny relationship with the morning star – flirting with Venus year after year, soon he was just a memory like the first snow fall so beautiful yet disappears to quickly.”

As i stand on the roof top shoveling snow i think of them and at times in my dreams they come to me, I see them. All the people long before my time: screaming aunties, uncles and elders slowly walking away from their holy-child. He was gone forever, and now grandma is too – along with her fragmented stories.

I bow, I kneel in the cold snow before the sunrise in memory of them all when they were younger, carving out identities just loosing their baby fat. They are all gone forever from this mother- earth melting away in my mind.

….Like a simple elegant snowflake that melts on my Indian skin.


22 thoughts on “Snow Flake Memories”

  1. Beautiful! How wonderful that you took the time to sit at the feet of your elders and listen… And what a blessing that you are a gifted story-teller yourself and have become the keeper of the stories!

  2. Thank you for this beautiful, touching story Robert.Thank you for evoked my memories.The shadows of our ancestors still float in our hearts just as the snowflakes flutter their dance above the pine trees.While it snows everything is shrouded by a mysterious serenity.. Our memories sink into snowy whiteness while silence tells its own story..

  3. Wonderful, thank you for sharing.
    How I miss my grandmother. She born in the 1800s and had wonderful tales to share with me. So many wonderful stories.

  4. Mirabal_Man,
    Thank you,

    this history has touched me on many levels.

    I hope there is a small amount of snow that you need to shovel. I used to live in a place that rained so much that I imagine it would be difficult on adobe. (200 inches of rain a year on average, if my memory serves me correctly.)

    This last Sunday, one of my Aunt’s passed on. Having moved over 3,000 miles away, there are many relatives that I don’t see very often.
    We always had hugs and kind words when we saw each other.

    Of the pictures that you share, those of you with your adorable girls are the ones where you look the happiest. I wish my kids and I still lived in the same town. Now I live about 2,000 miles away from where they are living.

    Blessings to you and to everyone who reads this,

  5. Roberto,
    Last night a stark
    and this morning a poetic
    reminder of the importance of family.
    p.s. interesting name Santiago…what was he choosing for his own and his family’s evolution?

  6. With a tear in my eye, a slight smile comes across my lips. What a story. I relate to on a personal level. Thank you for sharing this window into your world. Thank you for introducing Santiago.

  7. Hi Mirabal-Man,
    The beauty you can conjure in ones mind! I could feel the snow crackling around your knees, I too saw the same sunrise only many miles away from you. Glowing on the mountains before me, streams of light, the loved ones who have moved on, pouring down through the rain clouds. Their words and experiences that have shaped who I am, forever part of me, where ever I go.
    Thank you and much love to you and your loved ones!

  8. Wonderful, just wonderful!! As a mother of 2, both living over a thousand miles away, I understand your feelings. But you are in a place where your family is perpetual. Always there, where they have been for thousands of years. That must be a very secure feeling…..Happy Thanksgiving to you & your lovely daughters!!

  9. The thoughts that enter our mind-memories as we work, or sleep. The imaginings of what became of the Italians and Santiago….unanswered questions that forever remain. The families with generational mysteries; we share that empty place.

  10. Ah yes, those sweet cherished memories we hold close to our heart. There are but a few things that cannot be taken from us in life, thankfully our memories are ours to keep … forever.
    My grandmother passed away a couple of years ago, she turned 100 years old 28-OCT-2014. For so many years, I called her each day on my way home from work. We shared our lives, thoughts, and love with each other. I miss those talks and the ability to hear her sweet voice. Today I smile and look up to the heavens when we speak … she’s there, you know 🙂
    love and peace – KCinTX

  11. Robert –
    Wow! I don’t know what to say except that once again you shared a beautiful story with us. You are blessed to have so much of your stories handed down and to be able to continue to live in the place of your ancestors.
    Besides my step-father, the only family that I have that is still living are my son & daughter-in-law, my siblings, their children, and a few cousins with their children. But I still have my memories and I still remember some of the stories that the elders used to tell – alas, no one in the family cares much to hear them so I just sit back and remember those who told them to me and shared their life experiences.
    I will always be grateful for having them in my life. Enjoy your blessings, Mirabal Man. Thanks for sharing with us.

  12. Thank you Story Teller….you honor us with the Beauty that is your people…. and your home. Again you touch my Heart and you give me back a piece of my Home. With Love Respect & Peace to you…

  13. our loved ones never die.. now while we have breath and memories… time is selective also.. it filters many of the bad ones away…
    Peaceful blessings to you and yours…

    I seem to be not able to post on your page again..
    so will just post here form time to time .. be well

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