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Darins funeral. Left to right...Aunt Virginia, Aunt April, Grandma, Aunt Ruby, My Mom, Don's wife.

               “No!” Mom screamed into the phone. 

  “Darin shot himself!”

          Uncle Darin, Mom’s brother was visiting Cy (Aunt Vivian’s X-husband) in Magdalena. He had been drinking. He placed the barrel of his handgun to his head and pulled the trigger.


          The one level, adobe motel on Central Ave in Albuquerque was full of our relatives. Darin’s funeral and burial was the following day.

          Al drove up to our motel room in his white Impala.

          “Mom, Al and I are going to get something to eat”

          She glared at me but allowed me to leave.

          When I returned she was furious.

          “I should take you to that funeral home and lock you up in that room with Darin!” she fumed.

          Once again I made a vow to myself, “as soon as I am able I’m leaving!”

          After the funeral, pictures were taken of Grandma and her daughters and oldest son, Don. Grandma had lost her son, and Mom and her siblings had lost their youngest brother.

          Mom and Aunt Ruby were convinced that someone had murdered Darin. They couldn’t accept “suicide”. They consulted Aunt Ruby’s Ouija board. A board of deception can give you nothing but fear. Mom was beside herself. We returned to Grants in hopelessness and chaos.

          Mom and Deryl were yelling in the kitchen. The drinking had begun again. From the living room I saw Mom flip the light off and hit Deryl with a bottle. They fought on the kitchen floor.

          Mom was nagging me constantly.  Nothing was up to her specifications. Nothing I did pleased her.

          One night she was arguing with me about Al. I sat on my bed in tears. She took my wrist and checked my pulse. She laughed about how fast it was beating.

          Al was my way out. He was my future. The end of the school year was near..*******

          (After writing this I have thought a lot about my mother and Darin. They were both hurting people. I feel sad for Uncle Darin and the pain he must have been trying to cover up with the alcohol.  There are many "if only's" in life. If only we had been a family of prayer. I do trust my Heavenly Father, He is full of mercy. He sees the hurts and pains of all people and He has compassion.)





          A few weeks later Al came to Grants. He told me he had been having a hard time.  Of course I forgave him.  We took up where we left off.  He drove us back to Albuquerque where I picked out an engagement and wedding ring.  Al put them on lay away.

          “We’ll get married next summer as soon as you graduate.” Al said.

          Grants was 70 miles from Albuquerque.
          Route 66 passed through the long main street of Grants.  Uranium mines and mills were the town’s main income.

          A small three-bedroom house was rented and Bronco and I began school. I was the youngest in the 1961 senior class. I made many friends and had opportunities to date, and socialize but I was “engaged.”

          Life was good at first. But as the year continued Mom was moody. Something was bothering her. There were mornings when she fixed breakfast for Bronco and I.  But some days she didn’t want to get out of bed.   She confided to me that she had tried to over doze on pills but it hadn’t worked.

          I didn’t have a car so my friend Louise picked me up for school every morning. Her parents owned the jewelry store in Grants.   
          Later in the year, one of our friends from our class, died in a car wreck.  As I attended the funeral with other classmates I once again was faced with death.

         The age-old question resonated in my mind …why was I here?

          Mom and Al were having a silent war. They couldn’t stand each other.

          “The sooner you get away from your mother the better,” Al said.

          One weekend I was invited to go to Albuquerque with a friend and her mother.  My objective was to see Al.

          “No, you are not going to Albuquerque!” Mom said adamantly.

          I spent my senior year angry and frustrated with my mother. 
          Mom was angry with all of us. There was no way of pleasing her.  Because I was "engaged" I spent most of my time at home, so I was with her a lot. 
          When I folded the towels, she said they should have been folded a different way. No matter how I did them it was never right. 
           The house had wood floors. She went on a rant that they had to be polished with wax. If they weren't just right we were all in trouble.  

It was like walking on a tight rope. 

(As a young adult, I thought it as my fault that I couldn't please her. But, now I know she was desperately unhappy.)



                                Moving to a Grants to graduate...1960


Albuquerque was left below in the valley, as the “57 Chrysler drove west up the nine mile hill.  Red rock formations stood majestically in the desert, as Route 66 wound its way to Grants, New Mexico.

I was on my way to Grants to graduate from high school but I was with Mom, Bronco and Deryl.  When Mom received my letter Deryl quit his job in Dulce and they came for me in Albuquerque.

Dottie had not been happy when I left. Her parting words to Mom were, "Wanda, Gloria will never graduate from High School"

“There’s a sight for sore eyes,” Deryl said as we approached some road construction. The Chrysler parked on the side of the highway, and Deryl walked over to the heavy equipment. He was smiling when he returned to the car.

          “I start work Monday morning.”
          I was touched that Deryl and Mom cared enough about my graduating that they would move to Grants.
             (I knew they loved me in their own ways. And I loved them no matter what happened.)