Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Trip With My Father



My father had his recurrent "every six months" medical appointment
at the VA in Albuquerque, and he invited me to go with him this time.

We turned a somewhat somber occasion into an extremely memorable one.


Thursday Night - May 20th

As we rode up the elevator, exhausted, Dad gave me "the rules."

It warms my heart that after all of these years ... a forty year old woman
who has driven across the USA with two babies in the car
by herself, and who has been to hell and back
at least three times ... I am still his precious little girl.

Don't talk to strange strangers ... keep your door dead-bolted ...
if you go outside to use the phone, at night, stay near the front doors ...
stay close enough that if you scream, you can be heard ...
don't go near the busy street ... don't lose your key ...
etc etc etc

The few times I went outside, at night, I could see my father looking out
the window - ever so often - checking my whereabouts.

Is that sweet, or what?


Our first night in town, I was treated to the best dadgum green chili cheeseburger
EVER ...
from a little burger joint called Blake's.


Friday Morning - May 21st

Dad had to leave for his early morning appointment ... this was the view.


Dad didn't get through with his medical stuff until 1:30 PM ...
but by the time he finally got back to the hotel,
he had the rest of our long day planned out to the last hour.

First Destination: The Sandia Mountain Crest
on the Tramway

A little known fact:  I am seriously afraid of heights.

It was a chilly 52 degrees up there ... and aside from the occasional
spots of snow, in late May, there were also deep snow drifts.

We walked along a trail, and gathered rocks ... when we got back to our room
later that night, Dad used a permanent marker to scrawl
the date and location on the backs of them ... momentos for our shelves.

While we were up there on the crest, the winds picked up ferociously ...
little did we know the trams were being filled quickly for departures.
By the time we made it to the departure platform, the winds were so bad
that the crew had to fill up the bottom of the tram ballisters with water
to weight it down.

The ride back to the bottom was scary,
and we were the last trip of the day before they shut it down.


Oh!  While we were up there walking the trails ...
Dad told me about a memory he had about a TWA flight
from the 50's ... he was living there, as a child, at the time ...
that had crashed into these mountains. 

I've done some research on the tragedy, since I've been home,
and found out the wreckage is still there.  Untouched.
And the Tram goes directly over the crash site.


Dad was full of memories and stories that he shared with me on our trip. 

He had lived in Albuquerque most of his elementary school years,
and part of junior high. He went to school with the Navajo Indian children
on a reservation near Gallup.

This is the last home they lived in (1959) near the Rio Grande in west Albuquerque ...
before his father abandoned him, his three little sisters,
and my beautiful grandmother.
It is rare to ever see my father cry ... ever ...
but I saw him tear up a few times this trip.
His face lit up when he saw the Kimo Theatre downtown. 
He told me how it was such a treat for him
to catch the bus and go to the movies.
25¢ would cover the bus, the ticket, and the pop and popcorn.

Something else I noticed about my Dad that hasn't changed
after all these years ... while walking in the city, he always walked
the curb, and kept himself between me and the street ... he always
faced the entrance at restaurants, and always scanned the room for exits.

It dawned on me ... I am the same way.
Especially with my children.
And I never like to have my back to a door.

Friday evening he took me to the famed Sadie's at Fourth and Solar ...
he remembered her (and her food) from childhood.

I believe, if I remember the story right, her son took over
the restaurant when she died ... and he died a few years ago ...
and now her grandsons run the place.

Here was Sadie's original griddle/grill.
The mural in Sadie's main dining room ... 1955 - five burgers for $1

That's my Dad :)


Then we went to Albuquerque's Old Town District for some shopping.



Saturday - May 22nd

The buses in Albuquerque look like accordians!


We took the train to Santa Fe.
I must have had some REAL good energy vibes today ... or something.

While standing in the crowd on the platform
waiting for passengers to get off so we could get on,
a lady appeared in front of me from out of nowhere
and handed me her "all-day" train pass.

She disappeared as quickly as she appeared, and
I barely had a chance to shout out my thrilled


This photo depicts what my life feels like.



Back to the comment that "I must have had REAL good energy vibes today
... or something."

I ate a pricey guacamole plate at The Ore House, and had a few sodas,
while letting Dad do some personal shopping.

When I asked for my ticket, the handsome waiter waved it off
and told me it was on him, and it was his pleasure.
He got a hug for that.

I bought my girls their presents while here in Santa Fe ...
Lindsey and Laura both got one-of-a-kind necklaces,
and Nani got a bright red embroidered dress
that "just so happens" to have a baby dove on it.
**Big Smile and a Wink**
Dad bought me some intricate beaded, dangle earrings
from one of the street vendors, some salsa, a vase, and a recipe book.

Saturday Evening - Heading Back to Albuquerque

Dad and I picked up some rocks along the Santa Fe tracks, too ...
to scrawl the date and location on the backs ...
for more momentos for our shelves.

On the train ride back, Dad and I talked about my possible move to Terlingua.
He loves the idea, and loves Big Bend/Terlingua, and is very supportive.

The past five years or so, every time I have cooked a meal for family gatherings ...
for which I am always nominated/selected ... everyone tells me I need to open
my own restaurant someday.

Dad reminded me of that fact, and then blurted another fact, with a shit-eatin'
grin on his face. 

"You know, Terlingua is an old mining town."

What in the world does THAT have to do with me opening up a restaurant someday?

"You are a grand madam if I ever knew or saw one, Brooke Dionne. It's perfect."

This time the ornery glint in his eye was replaced with serious flint.

And then all of a sudden, my memory zoomed into rewind
as I vividly recalled a playful conversation I had with Sunny and Zano
at the Legion in Terlingua one glorious, semi-inebriated night among friends.

The grand madam, Mama Crow, has her grand master plan ...
maybe it's been there all along ... or maybe it's another facet of the day's
REAL good energy/vibe thing.
Thanks Dad ... you are brilliant ... I love you.


Saturday Night ended with a thick juicy steak, fresh bread, and wine ... the waiter
"forgot" to include my wine on the ticket, and when it was brought to his attention he
shrugged it off with a sheepish smile.

Goodness ... what a REAL real good-vibed day ... gracious.


Sunday - May 23rd 

A Holy Day ... with a final view out our hotel window.

After we packed up the car, Dad made an unexpected detour back to
Albuquerque's Old Town District, and told me to wait in the car.

He surprised me with the liquid silver anklet bracelet (with dark blue gems) that I had
had my eyes on the other night.  I passed it up, for my Self, so I could make sure
I had enough money to get all of my sweet girls something nice instead.


And, then, Dad made another unexpected detour at Barnes & Nobles ...
and, once again, I was told to stay in the car.

He came out with this for me ... and told me it was his favorite book.

I didn't know he read "fiction" ... never knew he entertained anything other than
The Bible, Og Mandino,  
Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill and all the rest of
the Magic of Thinking Big type stuff.

But, knowing Dad the way I do, I am willing to bet this "fiction" book is extraordinary
in some magnificent way or another ... it would HAVE to be to picque his interest;
let alone make such a claim as "it's my favorite."

This claim is from the man who can quote entire scrolls from Og Mandino's
"Greatest Salesman in the World."

And so it shouldn't surprise me much when he began quoting this
from Atlas Shrugged:

Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice
– and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal.
Man has to be man – by choice; he has to hold his life as a value – by choice;
he has to learn to sustain it – by choice; he has to discover the values it requires
and practice his virtues – by choice.


My final surprise before we headed home to Texas was this ...
ending the memory the same exact way it started:

The best dadgum green chili cheeseburger EVER.

You can see Dad come out the door with the bag in his hand.

It was fun to eat it in the car ... going 85 down the highway ... really, it was.


We were oddly quiet, after we downed our burger, the first hour of our drive home.
Both of us kept looking back over our shoulders through the Tijera Canyon. 
We could see still the snow-topped mountains in Santa Fe
most of our way to Santa Rosa. 

Dad showed me where Little Tilton (age six) was killed in Clines Corners
... while saving his handicapped, older brother.

Aunt Lillian and Uncle Clifford, while on vacation in the early 50's, had a flat tire.
At the time, they had two sons: Dale and Tilton.

Dale was mentally retarded, and four years older than Tilton.

The two boys were playing alongside the highway while the parents worked
on the car ... and Dale wandered into the road. 
Little Tilton saw a car coming, fast, and ran to push Dale out of the way.

Aunt Lillian collapsed in the middle of the road holding one of his shoes
that was blown/torn off from the force of impact ... some many, many yards away.


Our conversation then turned to loss and sadness
... and we talked about a few old wounds between us.

I had never gotten over the guilt of my late night wreck
the summer I graduated high school, and him being the one who found me 
... and he had never needed/wanted to talk about it.

I had never gotten over the guilt of the failure of my first marriage
... and he had never needed/wanted to talk about it.

I had never gotten over the guilt of my second "marriage" either ...
and he had, once again, never needed/wanted to talk about it.

But we did.

A lot.

And the closure is healing, and sealing
... I love my father, and he loves me.

Without question.


Dad then proceeded to cheer me up 
by tossing this red box upon my carseat 
during one of our quick restroom breaks.

A sure-fire way to my heart ... ssshhhh ...
just may be through these tasty little critters.

It's nice that Dad knows this 
... or remembers this ...
and now you know this, too 


The rest of our drive home passed quickly ... very quickly ... as it always
seems to do when the topic turns into a deep, profound, spiritual level;
and stays there.


I will leave you with my father's favorite picture of Albuquerque
... one that he sent to me via email a long time ago.


If you believe in prayer, please say one for my Dad ...
I am concerned about his physical health.
Thank you.


  1. Oh what wonderful memories you made.
    There is just no way I would have the nerve to crawl on the Tram!! High places, well scare the s@#t outa ME.
    There are many paralles in your dad's life and mine in Albuquerque. My sister was born there in 1953, we then moved away but my folks moved back and I lived there when Kennedy was killed. Ernie Pyle Jr High. We lived next to the river too!

  2. Frann, dad's three younger sisters were born there ... so he was there in 1953, too ... in fact, Cindi was born in 53.

    Dad played for the City of Albuquerque's baseball team, and was All-Star Pitcher ... I'll find out what junior high he went to.

    Even though they moved back to Texas in 1959, he was recruited to return in 1963/64 to be the quarterback for Rio Grande High School.

    I forget the details, but will find out, he ended up back in Abilene/Buffalo Gap (Texas) and graduating from Wylie High School in 1964.

    Wouldn't it be neato if your paths crossed? Maybe you were friends with his sisters?

    Yes, oh what wonderful memories we made!

    And, yes, high places scare the sh!t outta me too!

  3. The school I went to only had 3 gringos me, my brother and a blond girl I didn't know as she was ahead of me 2 years. That wass the first place this Iowa born girl ever had a burrito!

  4. Looks like you had a nice vacation. Hope your Dad is ok. Its nice he is so supportive of you. I never had that.

    I'm sure you will realize your dreams some day.

  5. We had a great time didn't we. We'll do it again. Will make you a disk of the pics I took. Remind me. Maybe you can add. Thanks for helping me set up the blog. Love you. Dad

  6. Thank you, OGT.

    You're welcome, Dad ... I love you, too :)

  7. Sounds like a great trip. Sure glad you and your Dad were able to make the memories. The restaurant in Terlingua sounds great. I'll try to be your first customer.

    BTW I haven't been ignoring your blog. Just haven't been able to post for some reason.

  8. Thank you for letting me know you stop by to see what's going on in my life, Tffnguy ... means a lot to me to know you do.

    It bothers me to hear you still have trouble leaving me comments ... I must have something clicked in my setting that is complicating things for my friends.

    I'll take a look at it again as soon as I finish this project Dad has asked me to do for him :)

  9. What wonderful memories you made on this trip. You are blessed to still have your dad with you.

    I must admit I teared up a couple of times during your post. I loved my dad and I know he loved me but I wish we could have gotten to discuss a lot of subjects kind of in the line of what you and your dad discussed.

    To anyone out there who still has their dad, please ask him questions and talk about things you have always wanted to do but where afraid to bring up. Don't wait around for later or it may be too late.

    Please give your dad a kiss for me and know how lucky you are to still have him with you.

  10. Ms. Belinda, thank you for your kind words. They seared straight into my heart, and brought tears back to my eyes as well.

    Bless you.


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