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Roma in the old truck, date unknown, image
© 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Look at her smile.

I knew her smiles. I saw her dimples and I saw her straight teeth, and I saw the dance in her eyes, but I never saw the smile she’s wearing in that photo.

That is the smile of a woman in love. An adoring smile. Look at it.

That is the smile that tells me Roma was a woman and a lover and a friend before she ever became my grandmother.








My Aunt Sophie, the oldest of my grandmother’s children, wrote an essay about her mother. The following are excerpts taken from that piece.


Roma was my mother. I wonder what my grandparents were thinking when they named her Roma. Her family called her Romey, her friends called her Romana, and close friends and relatives called her Romanita.

Her birthday was February 28, 1904. A very special date to be born. It was the day before Leap Year. I can verify that she was special. She was beautiful, she was romantic and adventuresome…She loved deeply, and others loved her because of her friendliness and her ability to reach out to others. She was born of an era when being poor was fashionable; a time when adults told stories to children about caves, trains, owls, witches and demons; it was one way of keeping the children at home in the evenings. Roma was a wonderful story teller. She loved to make up stories and songs and dance and laugh, all in that order.



I like to think about who Roma was before she became a grandmother. She grew up in the mining camps of northeastern New Mexico. She went to public schools with the children of immigrants from Italy, Romania, and Yugoslavia.

She was 16 when she married, a handsome New Mexican who was killed in one of the state’s worst mining accidents. At the age of 18, Roma became a widow with two children, the youngest not even a month old. Then she met my grandfather.

Mom told us about the songs her mother sang, songs she learned in school. Aunt Sophie remembered them, too:


When we were children, Roma sang us songs using the sounds of her childhood. The words did not make much sense, but the melodies live in us to this day.

Hanti-Nanche tu ti maja, mata tu san ches san a ma way.

Another song, a blend of English and Spanish, went like this: Cuando estaba chiquitita me decía me mamá, Pretty Baby, Pretty Baby.



I always wonder who took that picture of her in the truck. How old was she? It’s hard to tell. I imagine it was my grandfather, her second husband. Everyone called him Sandy, even his kids. He was a cowboy.

They lived on a ranch, seven miles from school and Cimarron, the real Wild West. Where pavement ends and Hell begins.

One last thought from Sophie:


I always enjoyed looking at my mother’s profile when I was working with her at some project. She had an abundance of rich, black hair, and depending on what she wore, her eyes were sometimes green and sometimes blue and she had this mischievous smile. Sometimes I wondered what she was thinking, and I wondered too why a woman of this beauty would be living out here where only the cattle roam.





Roma, date unknown, image 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved






-related to posts PRACTICE: My Grandmother – 15min and  WRITING TOPIC — GRANDMOTHERS

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1958 Chevy Apache pick-up truck, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




When I was 39 years old I let Jim know that for my 40th birthday I wanted an old truck. I wanted a truck that was about my same age. Something big, bulbous, and roomy. I wanted a truck that would remind me of my grandpa, who when he wasn’t riding a horse was bouncing up the dirt road in his old pick-up, on his way to the saloon.

I learned to drive in my sister’s VW bug when I was about 13, but I honed my skill in Dad’s 1971 Chevy pick-up when I was 16. Mom and Dad went on a long trip to Lake Powell that summer, and never suspecting that I’d attempt to drive a stick shift that didn’t even use first gear (except to pull a camper up a hill), they left the key behind. My friends and I went off-road, down ditch banks and in the rolling sand dunes of Albuquerque’s west mesa, in that pick-up. We got it stuck but were able to get a tow out of the hole I’d plowed into.

And so the one thing that called to me as my 40th year approached was a good ol’ truck. Jim eventually found one, although I believe it was not until after I’d turned 41. The find was worth the wait.

It had belonged to an old farmer from around these parts named Mr. Tenorio. Everyone knew Mr. Tenorio, and everyone knew his 1958 Chevy Apache pick-up with its original forest green paint.

For a couple of years I was in old-truck heaven. Manual steering, unwieldy stick shift, doors that only closed after slamming them with all your might several times. This baby required muscle. I remember once taking my friend Anne out for a spin. We rounded a corner and her door flew open. The truck didn’t have seat belts.

Jim and I used the pick-up two seasons in a row for selling apples, chile, and other produce at the local Growers Market. Our booth was one of the most festive; someone who was making a promotional video for our little village asked if she could film us, and I know the appeal was that 1958 Chevy Apache and the red and yellow apples and green chile all laid out in produce baskets in the truck’s bed.

Last week we sold dear Mr. Tenorio’s truck. For the past three or four years it has sat unused in our driveway, its green body rusting away bit by bit each day. I might have liked to hang on to it forever, but Jim and I are letting go of all the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years that we no longer truly need or want.

We sold the Apache to a young Chicano from a town south of here. I didn’t meet him, nor did I watch the truck pull out of the driveway. I was certain this was the right thing to do—we had no plans to fix up the truck to its former glory, and Jim got the feel that this guy did—yet…. I didn’t want to know exactly, down to the last tattoo, what the new owner looked like. And I didn’t want to have to say anything to him or to the Apache.

I said my goodbyes later. I noticed the pile of dead cottonwood leaves that had accumulated since fall between the truck and the juniper bushes. The driveway had a lot more room. The house seemed empty. Funny how something outside the house could make the whole thing look slightly vacant. Mr. Tenorio was gone.








-Related to post WRITING TOPIC – MEMORIES OF CARS

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