Sunday, June 19, 2011

Misty water-colored memories

Day 19
Sweet memory from my past

So many memories have been crowding my brain lately, clammoring to be the one at the forefront, the one I am paying attention to at the moment. Last week my mother's oldest brother, Melburn J Swapp, passed away on Monday. So I have spent the week remembering. It seems so weird to think about because when I think of my parents and their siblings I still see them in my mind the way they were when I was young. My mind's eye sees them when they were an age younger than I am now and am always surprised when something reminds me that that is no longer true.

The memories I have been experiencing the most are those from time spent at my Grandma Swapp's house in Luna, New Mexico. We would gather together at Grandma' house- one big noisy family filling her house for holidays, special days, just because days. Uncle Melburn's second child, Melanie, is 12 days older than I am. We were always best friends and spent these days hanging out and playing and doing whatever cousins do when they don't live by each other and get together. What I remember most about Uncle Melburn is him laughing in the kitchen. I loved hearing him laugh.

And that brings me to more memories. The other memories that have been clammoring for attention. The memories of spending time at both Grandma's houses. Both sets of my grandparents lived in Luna, (and when I was younger I was related to most everyone that lived there through one side or the other of my family- but now more people have vaction cabins and it is described as a "resort town". Weird)

I loved going to Luna. In fact I wrote about time spent there my first year of college for my creative writing class. If I can find it, I'll post it.  Grandpa Swapp, Uncle Melburn and my mom's second oldest brother, Horace, all drove semi-trucks for a logging company. Sometimes Grandpa would let me go with him. I got to sit in the sleeper. Sometimes he would let me honk horn. It doesn't take much to make me happy. To this day one of my favorite smells is diesel mixed with freshly cut pine. Whenever I smell one or the other I am instantly transported in my mind to the place where Grandpa parked his truck.

When we went to Grandma Hulsey's house there were no cousins to play with. My dad is the oldest and the first one married and I was at least eight before there were any cousins. But there was an uncle, Richard, two years older than me and five months older than my older sister. He was always more like a cousin than an uncle and we found things to do. Like gathering eggs for Grandma, digging up worms and going fishing with Richard, playing hide and seek in Grandma's yard, going to Great Grandma's or any of the other great aunts and uncle's houses around town. My favorite thing? to play on the old grinding stone that sat out front.  It looked kind of like this

Perhaps in the last 20 days or so you have heard about a little fire in Arizona. A fire that is the largest wild-fire in Arizona's history. A fire that has now crossed the border into New Mexico. Those little towns that were evacuated early in the fire? Alpine, Nutrioso? Springerville? Eagar? All places I know and spent time and have family living. and the little "resort town" of Luna? Was evacuated yesterday afternoon and my dad just let us know that the fire is headed toward my Grandma's ranch.

Uncle Melburn's funeral was supposed to be tomorrow in Luna and he was supposed to be laid to rest in the cemetery there. the cemetery that holds so many family members. The cemetery where I will some day rest. But that is not going to happen. The funeral will be at my parent's church house and then interment waits until the fire has passed. or is gone. or......

My mom's younger brother is headed to my parent's house. My dad's brothers and his mother have evacuated to safe places. Others have gone to safe places as well. Since March there have been so many fires in New Mexico that I have lost count. Dad also just told us that there is another fire that started today and has already grown to 1000 acres. The entire southwest of our country is dry, dry, dry and burning up. They really need some of these cooler temps and rain that we are so very tired of.

Pray for the wind to quit down there, for the firefighters to get a handle on this fire, for rain without lightning, for my family and their properties to be protected. And pray for comfort for my mom, her other brothers, Uncle Melburn's children and grandchildren and wife.
If you want to see a timeline of the Wallow fire you can go here. See how close it was to Luna yesterday? scary


1 comment:

Dad Mom said...

This is a mistake a lot of people, even in the family make. His full name is Melburn J Swapp. He wasn't a James. There are James' on both sides of the family so it is a common mistake. Luna seems to be safe today, still fires around but it seems to have been kept away from any homes, close though. Love Mom