From the deep well of grief and blessings as well as travelling to a part of my American heritage that errupted so many memories, triggered so many thoughts of dreams from childhood; I litereally stood at the pass of El Paso and just thought about life. "Life!," out loud, as you do when you feel you have lost a heart-slice of your identity.
Uncle Joe was " a blesser!" He seemed to like nothing more than taking us around the Publicaciones de Bautista-the Baptist Publishing House where books and Sunday School literature was purblished and then carried down in a small plane to the Spanish speaking part of our world. When I was little, I had seen the big machines cranking out page after page and marveled at the type settings. Then it all changed and those machines in the basement were heavily pushed aside for the more agile computer. Still, stacks of literature everywhere.My deep love of writing, even the smell of books was born here in the Texas desert. But no sooner than you had the "tour" of meeting people and seeing things in the nooks and crannies of the building, Uncle Joe would give you his night tour which took you up to the view point of The Pass. He used to tease my dad, (who also had a night tour of the city where he lived Washington, DC) that his night tour let us see into another country-Mexico! Lights everywhere.
The funeral service for my uncle, Dr Joe Poe and former Director General of the publishing house, was packed. Not a seat was left vacant in the sanctuary, and they filled the overflow hall where a screen made the readings and the sermon and eulogies available. It was all in Spanish. I was honoured and blessed to be asked to read the scripture in Spanish and in English. My coccusin Jerry said a closing prayer on behalf of all the family.
Jerry, the eldest of my aunt and uncle's children heads up that side of the family now. He has an understanding that perhaps is a gifting of missionary kids. He knows how to include all cultures in our family without blinking an eye. He has the gift. And this gifting extends to getting us all out to restaurants of Tex-Mex and then pure Mexican where we can talk about life along the border. It upsets all of us that we cannot hold a family meal in Uncle Joe's favourite restaurant, El Camino Real...but that would mean crossing the border and Juarez has been a no-go area for quite awhile.
I think back, back before the drug cartels had a strangle hold on the city and freely we went over, spending days at a time enjoying meeting the people who trecked across to my aunt's free medical clinic. Some still do the daily treck, but my aunt refuses to allow us to do. It would be a dangerous part of memory lane. Back at the overlook point on the pass, I pray for Ciudad Juarez y El Paso.
Then because I have learned a lesson from previous funerals, I do not get back on the plane and travel to a disconnected culture. I hang out with my cousins and aunt, daily sharing grief and telling family stories. Life, we hold as prescious and yet it is a light hold afterall. We travel light, and linger where we need to be.