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Shirley’s Final Gift

I had just gotten us back to the AirB&B. We were getting ready for bed. And we asked ourselves, as we had been asking all along, what right we had to be happy.

This had been one of our most successful trips in recent memory. Everything had gone well. The Casita was delightful. The Memorial Service had been moving but not maudlin. The trip to the Albuquerque Museum and the Marmon Exhibit had been wonderful. We had managed not to exhaust ourselves on the trip to Old Town, yet we had enjoyed ourselves, and had discovered and purchased at the Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery a superb image. Dinner at the Cocina Azul had been excellent. Even the weather had co-operated with us. It had been cool and breezy after we’d endured weeks of heat and drought in Texas.

But...there was the rub. We had come to New Mexico on what should have been an unhappy mission. We were saying goodby to Shirley. That should have been reason enough to be melancholy.


We discussed it. Finally, we came to a conclusion. Martha said I’m the one who put it first into words. Maybe I did. I don’t really recall who was first. But, whoever....

What I said was as follows: We need to think of this as Shirley’s final gift. If she had been here, she would have wanted us to be happy...would have wanted us to enjoy ourselves, to be serene.

And, by George, we had enjoyed ourselves, and we had been happy.

Who were we to refuse that? To refuse her gift?

Yes, Martha said, Yes. Who were we, indeed?

So, as good guests should, we accepted what had been given us and continued on our way.


The next morning we took the car to the rental place...small mixup there. I gave them the wrong keys and we had to do some juggling. One might almost suspect that I didn’t want to go back to Texas. But, come, we shan’t get all Freudian here. We haven’t time and we’re no longer as Jung as we were once.


Anyway, the plane came. We boarded. And a few hours later, we were home.


And that was our trip to Albuquerque. A few days later, on Tuesday, to be precise, we were back on the road, this time bound for New England. A little foreshadowing: we had a good time but also some disasters and near-disasters, including Martha falling yet again (but this time with only minor injuries).

But before I leave this particular series, I will add one more thing about Shirley. On the day of the Memorial, I posted the following to Facebook:

“I think the memorial went well. Bittersweet, of course, but a fitting send off for a remarkable woman who had done much and been everywhere.

“Safe travels, Shirley Puariea.”

And, I think, along with a word of thanks to her for our time in New Mexico, that sums things up. Safe travels, indeed.

More to come.

About the photo: This is actually a shot from Georgetown, Texas. As you know, we had a serious freeze here in Texas in February, 2022. It was rather dangerous and not a few people died in the resulting power failure. (Texas is simply not set up to deal with ice in any great amount.) Rather stupidly, I took a walk one morning, and took a photo of my own tracks in the snow. It seems, in its way, fitting to post it here. Tracks leading off to...who knows what adventures?

Again, our best to Shirley on her voyages.


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