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A Visit from Grace

A young girl recalls the beauty of her madrina (godmother) and the joy her visits would bring into her life.

My godmother was in town. She had come to visit mother and was waiting to take a picture with me.  I, of course, was out in the mountains somewhere and had to be dragged in to pose with this beautiful woman we knew as Grace.  Grace was very attractive and could charm anyone in sight.  She lived in California but she came to Pecos to visit her mother and her daughter, Alice.  She had other children as well and we kind of grew up together.  Her daughter, Helen, was as beautiful as Grace and she spent some summers hanging out with us.

My older sister, Dolores, had the job of tracking me down, scrubbing me, and combing my hair for this big event.  She informed me I was a pain in the neck because I could never keep clean.  The scrubbing hurt and I was left with the cleanest red knees and cheeks too.   She made comments that she had all this responsibility all for a lousy picture.  She also informed me I was to disappear right after my picture was snapped and not to show off in front of everyone.

My sister was truly the one who kept the house together and made sure we took one bath a week.  Come Saturday morning, she would be heating water outside for all three of us sisters.  I was the last one to take a bath because I always managed to pee in the bath water, so no one would trust me after that.  Mother always said that’s why I had pretty skin and maybe the curly hair too.

Grace was beautiful and always kissed my father smack on the lips.  Father loved it, too and mother teased him, perhaps even fussed about it a little afterwards.  Grace called me “Linda” and asked if I was going to be like her when I grew up.  She loved to sing and I did, too.  It was believed that if your godparents baptized you with all their hearts. you would turn out like them.  She took pride in telling me I was just like her.  I sure wanted to look and smell like her.  My sister would laugh and say “Not on your life, kid.”  She was right too.  I was this skinny, dark little Indian who resembled a crow more so than my godmother.

Grace always had a scarf with her and she’d tie it around my neck while I posed for a picture.  My cousin Linda also got in the picture with us.  The smell of perfume was delightful and I sure didn’t want to give that scarf back.  She would say, “Here, wear this and see if you look like you madrina.”

Grace was one sexy woman, beautiful face and legs, like Betty Grable. That’s what my sister, would say.  Grace always wore red lipstick and left her lip impression on my cheek.  Men loved her.  She had left her husband because of his drinking so she was free to flirt and come and go as she pleased.

Mother always served her coffee and I would watch her sip it and light her cigarettes.  It was exciting because real cigarettes were never seen at our house.  My aunt even rolled her own cigarettes.  This lady would light one after another and talk all the time she was there.  She would hug us and say how pleased she was with the way I was growing up.  Another kiss on the cheek and Grace would disappear – promising to send me a picture.  Back to the montesito I went with the scent of perfume and a red lipstick kiss on my cheek. It would make anyone feel pretty special.