A Visit With a Saint

My adventure began when my friend Cinda sent me a small article she’d found online. It was about the Mexican folk saint Teresa Urrea, “The Saint of Cábora”. (Or it could be Cabora, without the accent. Maps disagree.)

Now, I happen to love Mexican folk saints. And I’d read about Santa Teresa in Luis Urrea’s famous book The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Luis is the great-nephew of the famous saint. I’m a big fan of Luis Urrea and have read a number of his books, but The Hummingbird’s Daughter is special to me.

Teresa’s story begins in the Mexican state of Sinaloa where she was born in 1873. It continues with the family’s move to Caborca, Sonora, and through her development there as a healer. The book ends when she has to flee for her life. The book is historical fiction but Teresa’s healing and miracles are well documented.

Teresa and her father, late 1800s

The article Cinda sent me said that Santa Teresa, often called Teresita, was buried in Clifton, Arizona, a few short hours north of where I live. She’d died of tuberculosis on January 11, 1906, only thirty-two years old.

As if it happened, my birthday was coming up in about six weeks. I’d been looking for something special to do. When I reached 70 a few years back, I figured it’s pretty important to celebrate every year.

So what does one do to celebrate during the time of Covid?

Easy. Visit a grave. The grave of Santa Teresa Urrea.

I did a bit of research online and found a photo of the grave. It was covered with a concrete slab and surrounded by a small, decorative metal fence. The notes said the grave was unmarked, but with the photo I hoped to find it. I saved the photo onto my iPad.

I scheduled a room at the Clifton Hotel (blog post soon about this sweet place). I reserved two nights.

I headed off on my birthday around 9:30 and after stopping along the way for gas, coffee, photos, etc., I pulled in to Clifton around 1:45. I wandered a bit and got to my hotel by 2:30.

After a quick meal, I headed out to the cemetery with my iPad containing the grave’s photo.

The photo showed two tall Italian Cypress trees, and I figured I’d line them up with the mountains in the background to find the grave.

I got to the cemetery and was happy to find there were only two Italian Cypress trees, the ones in my photo. I could see them right through the cemetery entrance.

It didn’t take long to find the grave, but I was surprised and pleased to find it was now marked with a simple cross atop the concrete. Teresita was etched into one arm of the cross, Urrea into the other.

The fence was decorated with a rosary, and there were pink and yellow plastic flowers tied to the fence. A candle to the Virgin of Guadalupe and a small card called an estampita (a little stamp) for the Virgin sat at the base of the cross. The estampita had the Virgin’s likeness on the front and a prayer on the back. The rim of the concrete was decorated with rocks. 

I sat.

I poured out some of my sorrows, told her about Covid and the terrible divisiveness in our country. I asked her to intervene. She’s a saint, after all.

We chatted for about twenty minutes. Truth be told, she didn’t really chat. But she listened.

As I left, I asked her to come to me in my dreams.

I visited her the following day, leaving some fresh-picked flowers on her grave, and stopped by again on my way out of town the morning I left. 

Each time as I left, I asked her to visit me.

She hasn’t yet, but who’s to know? If you’ve read my post of a few weeks ago, you know I sometimes encounter spirits.

Teresa, I’m ready for a visit.

Seventy-Four and There’s So Much More (With Apologies to Neil Young)

“Old man, look at my life / I’m a lot like you were /Old man, look at my life / I’m a lot like you were / Old man, look at my life / Twenty-four, and there’s so much more.”

I loved those lines from Neil Young’s Old Man when I was twenty-four. I left the Midwest for Tucson at twenty-three, and a month later at twenty-four I was living in Tucson and knew I was a Westerner.

But Neil, you need to do a rewrite now.

“Young one, look at my life / I was a lot like you are / Young one, look at my life / I was a lot like you are / Young one, look at my life / Seventy-four and there’s so much more.”

I don’t yet know what the “much more” is, but to be sure, I plan on going after it.

Some of that “more” will include sorting, tossing, packing, and moving, though to where I don’t know. But it will be a place with public transportation and good medical facilities.

Part of the “more” will involve travel to places near and far and especially travel to be with my family. 

Most likely a part of the “more” will include a cat one day. An indoor cat. No more feline mass murderers in my home. 

Before Neil Young sang of  being twenty-four, there’d been songs with ages in them. Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen. Janis Ian’s At Seventeen

When I did a Google search, I found there are many more songs with ages in their titles. Most are by people or groups I’ve never heard of and mention ages sixteen to twenty-five. Very telling about our culture.

One didn’t fit that mold, though. The next song I related to was John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High

“He was born in the summer of his 27th year / Coming home to a place he’d never been before / He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again / You might say he found a key for every door.”

I was twenty-seven when I moved to Bisbee. It was winter. But by the summer of my twenty-seventh year, I knew I’d come home, to a place I’d never been before. You might say I was born again, into a community of hippies and I felt I’d found a key to quite a number of doors.

Key? Ha. In those days, no one locked their doors.

Then there were no more songs with ages in them, at least not that I recall, until sixty-four. When I finally caught up to the Beatles’ When I’m Sixty-Four, well, I still liked the song, but the line “Will you still need me, will you still feed me / When I’m sixty-four” held little meaning since I didn’t much need to be needed and anyway, I was feeding myself. 

Feeding myself a bit too much, actually, since I was at least thirty pounds overweight. Glad I’ve corrected that. 

There was one more song that spoke to me though it wasn’t about a specific age. It spoke to me long ago and does so even more clearly today. It’s John Prine’s Hello in There.

“You know that old trees just grow stronger / And old rivers grow wilder every day / Old people just grow lonesome / Waiting for someone to say, ‘Hello in there, hello.’”

But Neil, now that I’m seventy-four, please do a rewrite on Old Man and call it Young One. You can use my suggested opening lines. They are all I can come up with, but please pick up on it, okay?