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We did not have grandchildren until after we moved to South Carolina. Our eldest granddaughter graduated from high school in 2001, and I wanted to treat her to a trip to my nativity. Shortly after her graduation, my sister, Andrea and I embarked on a journey west. I wanted to introduce her to the Mother’s side of the family. I wanted her to see first hand what it looked like to stand in one spot and see purple mountains 360 degrees surrounding you. I was 21 before I realized that it only happens in the Rocky Mountains.
We started our Arizona adventure in Phoenix. We rented a compact car for our comprehensive state excursion. That’s what you do when you travel on a budget. Our first visit was in Camp Verdi to see the Killman Clan, then on to Jakes Corner visiting my sister-in-law. She gave Andrea a beautiful painting by my mother-in-law. Next morning we moved onward north to Show Low. My aunt called my cousins together and put out a sophisticated banquet. She was married to a Greek, and it influenced her menu. I will never forget hearing a large herd of elk come through her yard that night. I thought they were coming into the bedroom. A couple of days later, it was time to leave that nippy weather and head south to Tucson where we would face 100-degree weather. My mom’s oldest sister lived there, and some more of my cousins. My mother’s maiden name was Baker, and all of her siblings were masters of the kitchen. We watched my aunt as she made chocolate fudge in her big iron skillet. We had fun renewing our relationships and reminiscing over the influence my parents had on their family. By this time, Andrea was beginning to feel integrated and acquainted with the many different talents of the Bakers.
It was important to me that Andrea see where my parent’s ashes were scattered, so we headed west toward Margie’s Cove located south of Gila Bend. We drove the winding dirt trail through towering Saguaro Cactus to the cove and walked up the mountain to view the stones that bore their names. Back in the ‘70s, two Cartographers stopped into my dad’s restaurant inquiring to the names of various areas in the valley. Dad told them the cove was Margie’s Cove and the mountain to the right was called Margie’s Peak. He stated it as though it was fact. Thus, they both bear my Mother’s name.
That same scorching afternoon, we drove our dirty little car down to old highway 80 to the old store/homestead. A Latino family was residing in it at the time, and I desperately wanted Andrea to see the inside. The women of the house invited us in for a cold drink of water. We sat down at the familiar counter where I ate most of my meals growing up. Many of the items Mother made still adorned the walls. The Baby Grand, my parents, repurposed into a cabinet for their stereo system, yet took up all the space in the dining room. I told the woman that Velvet and I were raised there when it was a store. Then her 10-year-old daughter came up and whispered in her ear as she leaned down. The woman motioned for her to go into the storeroom and retrieve something.
My dad was raised in that store and was a pure desert rat. You would never see him unless he was sporting his signed Indian Jewelry. They sold it in the store, and he had the privilege of selecting from the finest. The little girl brought out a handcrafted brown box, in the shape of a large book. It had a decoupage black and white photo fixed to it of my Mother. The woman asked me if I recognized the woman. Then I began to cry; it was a jewelry box I made for my Mother in my younger years. I was speechless when I opened the lid and saw its contents. My dad’s favorite pieces of Indian Jewelry neatly organized within. The Latino family and their grandfather moved into the house not long after dad passed away in 1986. They found the box hidden away in the attic when they made some electrical repairs shortly after that. They had several young children, but their grandfather forbid the children from playing with it or its contents. It’s a mystery to me how the jewelry got into the attic because he wore those pieces all the time, and his wife could not have placed it in that particular area. The gracious woman offered the box to me, and I gladly accepted the family cache.
I do not believe in coincidences when you are in a relationship with the Lord. I am always in the right place at the right time because my steps are ordered of the Lord. (Ps. 37:23)
I planned the trip, especially for Andrea, and she was introduced to many new ideas, especially our way of cooking. Many blessings happened to all of us throughout, but the Lord led me to my destiny. Just think, the Little Brown Box was preserved for about 15 years just so the Lord could show Himself off big to us. That was the Crème de la crème!