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 escape.

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 over.

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 happy spirit.

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 them.

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!!!!!