New Mexico

Each time I go back home to New Mexico, I have such mixed feelings. On one hand, I absolutely love the food, my family, the scenery and usually the weather. But then on the other hand, I dislike the fact that the mass transit system is relegated to Greyhound and a few city buses in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The poverty in New Mexico is not only staggering but sobering. You can’t help but feel privileged when you see the large hungry eyes of small children clad only diapers on a cool day.

Living in Portland, Oregon has changed me in many ways. My views on animals mirrors organizations like PETA (I know my father would cringe if he read this), I eat things like TVP and drink microbrew beer. I haven’t carried an umbrella in over ten years and don’t run inside when it rains anymore. Summertime now is an exhausting couple of months filled with as many outdoor activities as I can fit in. My skin has turned a lighter side and is now prone to peeling sunburns. But I love it! All except I cannot find good spicy New Mexican food.

My recent visit to New Mexico was a mixed bag of sadness and joy. As most of you know, my Nana has been diagnosed with ALS and its marching through her body quickly. My nephew Trenton said that her muscles were broke which is the best description I can think of. I used to think the worst part of getting older was gray hair and wrinkles. Now I know its watching your loved ones suffer from a disease in which there is no cure and virtually no treatment for. All you can do is try to make them comfortable. I tried to be strong the first morning I went to see her but you know me…I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Gone was the vibrant, out going woman who has had such a huge impact on my life. Instead she was replaced with a little old woman who couldn’t talk. She put her head on my shoulder and allowed me to cry softly into her hair. I was happy to get to tell her that I loved her.

Nana and Trenton

Nana and Trenton

After that my brother Jimmy took me on what I initially thought was a 20-30 mile bike ride. It turned out that it was 50 miles. I’m still very surprised that I was able to finish the ride in one piece. My legs were shaky afterwords and I think I told my sister-in-law that I loved her. She picked me and my brother up rather than having us ride an additional 12 miles uphill!!! You’d love her too! My brother Jimmy took me for a beer and wings while my sister-in-law got her nails done. That Fat Tire and barbecued wings were the best things I had consumed in a long time!!

My dad and I hung out on Friday. He took me to two museums (New Mexico Museum of Natural History and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology) and to get the worlds best beef jerky. We don’t get to spend a lot of time alone which is unfortunate because we are very similar. We both like striped shirts, BBC, history, and making fun of people. We met my mom for lunch at Blake’s where we all enjoyed green chile burgers. It was a good day!

I had a good time in New Mexico but am happy to be home with Andy and my cats. I must say that I did enjoy having Jimmy’s dog Bodie sleep behind my knees.

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5 responses to “New Mexico

  1. Hey Aleta – I always love reading your reflections. I’m so sorry to hear about your Nana but glad for you that you got to go see her and connect with family. oxo jen

  2. Thanks for writing this. I think one of the best things you can do for someone you love is let everyone know how hard it is to lose that person. There’s an old quote by Steinbeck (from East of Eden): It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world.

  3. It’s not true that you can’t go home again. It’s more accurate to say that when you go home to the place you grew up, and then leave again, you take with you a clearer insight about the choices you’ve made since you left your childhood behind.

    Welcome home to Portland!

  4. Awe, Aleta, this is a beautiful post. Having just struggled with the prolonged & painful death of Will’s grandma I can relate to your angst over the cruelty of diseases like ALS. Just keep remembering the good memories of your grandma, and how much she must love you.

  5. what a touching post. so glad you got to spend time with her and share how much you love her. it’s never easy losing someone you love, especially to a disease like ALS. hang in there!

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