We are here in Texas with Anthony and Rosalee and have
enjoyed our visit so far. We really enjoyed attending the Testimony
meeting in which Aleia Rose received her name and blessing. Anthony
always gives such inspirational blessings to his children.
While listening to a talk on BYU channel I was reminded
of some memories that I have not written up as yet so I am borrowing
this computer to write a little.
Many years ago when Naoma and I were living in the
upstairs apartment of the old Bowman home a little boy came to our
door asking for me. I went to talk to him and he told me that his name
was Ramiro and that he was the son of Cristino Tafoya. I asked him
where his father was and how he was doing. He began to cry and said
that his father was very sick and needed some food for him to eat so
that he could get well.
I told him to wait a few minutes and we would go to see
him. Naoma fixed him a big plate with a variety of hot delicious food
on it and I went with little Ramiro to find his father.
He led me to a small hut about 8x10 ft. with tin roof
and a dirt floor. Ramiro opened the door and we stepped in. There on
the dirt floor lying on an old dirty ragged quilt the unrecognizable
emaciated pitiable figure of Cristino Tafoya. My heart broke and tears
came to my eyes as I remembered the tall strong athletic Cristino that
we all admired when we were boys swimming in the river at the old
Cardon Hole. Many times Cristino dressed only in a pair of short cut
off pants would come along the river carrying his long "fizga" (three
pronged fish spear) . He would stop where we were swimming. We would
all gather around him to see the big fish that he had caught. When we
would ask him how he caught them he would answer with a slow smile and
walk to the bank of the deep Cardon Hole. There he would take a deep
breath and in a perfect dive with hardly a splash he would disappear
into the dark water of the river. After what seemed too long a time we
would get worried that he had drowned. Still no sign of Cristino.
Finally he would come up out of the depths holding a big Carp fully
sixteen inches long. He would then swim to the bank and climb out
showing us the fish he had caught with his bare hands. We asked
excitedly how he had caught it. He answered simply that he had found
it in a cave under the bank and had caught it as it tried to
After that first item he would come by often and repeat
the performance and then swim with us joining in our swimming races
and diving contests. We were no match for him for he was a powerful
swimmer and a beautiful diver.
Even after we were in school in the fall we saw
Cristino often walking home with his string of fish hung on the end of
his spear which he balanced on his bare shoulder. The muscles in his
brown arms and legs rippled as he walked straight and proud in his
youth. Some times he would be barefooted and no hat. The sun seemed to
glint off his shiny black hair and his curly beard.
As these memories came back to me I looked down at his
emaciated face and body with his ribs prominently showing reminding me
of a skeleton. His legs and arms were no longer rippling with muscle
but seemed to be thin bones and sinew.
I handed him the plate of warm food, unable to answer
his glad greeting. After he had eaten all of the food he thanked me
profusely. I asked him how he had come to be so sick. He explained
that he had married and they had had several children. He was making a
living working in the fields and catching fish on weekends. A friend
told him that his wife was being unfaithful to him and when he
confronted her with the accusation she became angry and left him. His
children stayed with him but he tried to drown his sorrow with drink.
He began to drink more and more and neglected his family. He became an
alcoholic drinking and smoking heavily.
His family all left and went to live with relatives
except little Ramiro. He sold his home and lot and drank it up. Many
times he would lay drunk in the street near the saloon all night and
the next day get up to beg a drink from friends to cure his hang
Finally those powerful lungs that could stay under
water for over two minutes succumbed to the dreaded cancer that
devastated and destroyed his body leaving him in the pitiable
condition in which I found him.
I visited him often after that and each day that
faithful little Ramiro would come and carry the food to his dying
father. Naoma always put on an extra portion so that he could have
plenty of food for both of them. Finally Cristino died and was buried
without ceremony by some of his cousins. I don't think he even reached
the age of 40 years. What a waste of a powerful body and of a free and
I saw Ramiro the other day. He was working at the
service station that is on the highway going south out of Casas
Grandes south of the Paquime Packer. He seemed glad to see me and
asked if I knew who he was. I recognized him immediately and told him
that I knew he was Ramiro Tafoya who took care of his father when he
was a little boy. He said he was married and had four children and was
doing very well. I told him I was very happy for him. I told him that
I remembered how faithful and loyal he was to his father until he died
and that I really loved him for that. He was quiet and thoughtful for
a moment then finished taking care of the gas in the van.
I thought of how he had risen above his very sad
childhood and had made a good life for himself. At a very young age he
learned to serve others with no thought for his own comfort and had
felt useful and needed even as a little boy.
Today I prefer to remember Cristino as a young carefree
youth making his own living by using his great swimming talent. When
he stopped using those powerful lungs and began destroying his strong
body with liquor and tobacco he became week and could not resist the
attack of the deadly cancer of the lungs that took his life.
We can be strong in many different ways but if we stop
using and developing those strengths we can certainly gradually lose
I am sad to say that at one time I took great joy in
playing my guitar and singing. I remember occasions when I could sing
and play for 3 hours without repeating any of the songs. I got busy
with other things of life and soon the calluses on my fingers were
gone and it became painful to play even a few songs. Now that talent
and ability are gone and many of the beautiful songs that I enjoyed
singing are forgotten.
If we don't use it we lose it!!!!!