In my last post, I mentioned telling you about an experience at the Lake Valley Cemetery. The graves are on the opposite side of the main road past the ghost town and a friend mentioned that it was a necessity to see it. Many old gravestones including Lake Valley residents who died in the Civil War are there. The approach road was a bit difficult to drive and as we turned onto it, we could see a rather large group of people in the cemetery. At first I thought it was some kind of tour but when we got closer we realized it was something else.
This group was a family, an extended family, and they were standing and sitting near a grave site. In the middle was an older, hispanic man, sitting in a chair and playing the guitar. As we parked, the group, which include this man and his wife, several other adults and a number of younger children, began to move toward the exit. This older man walked right next to our car and I could not resist talking to him, asking him who he was singing to. I am going to put the next part in quotes just to represent that these were his words. They are not exact. He spoke with a fairly thick accent which made him difficult to understand at times but I believe that I got the gist of what he was saying. He began…
“I was playing for my father. He lived in Lake Valley his entire life. For the last several years we, my family, have come to his grave on Memorial weekend. I play him some of his own songs that were his favorites. Then I played some of his songs that were my favorites. He was blind the last 15 years of his life but he still liked to play and write songs that he sung to us. He used to use a cassette recorder to tape his songs for us so that we will always have them. Now we are headed to Hillsboro for a family reunion.”
At this point, his wife stepped in and in true New Mexico fashion, invited us to attend the reunion with them. She was holding one of her grandchildren as she talked to us. Here was present a 3 generation family remembering their patriarch, inviting us to be a part of it.
I was moved, so moved that I needed a couple of minutes to gather myself before leaving. I couldn't go into the cemetery to take any pictures because I felt like I would be trespassing on their memorial. Besides, my eyes were watery and I never would have been able to focus the camera.
When we got to Hillsboro, we were driving around and stumbled upon the the high school on the end of one of those horrible roads. The families’ 3 cars that were at the cemetery, were there, along with several others. We did not go to the reunion, I felt that we would be trespassing on their memories. Besides they had already given me a great deal.