Hola, Jolene Navarro, checking in from the Texas Hill Country.
I had planned to tell you about the Tree of Life project my students and I are working on for the celebration of San Antonio’s three-hundred-year anniversary. Many cultures use trees as symbols of life, roots that we need in order to grow, to grow a core trunk that enables us to stand strong so that the limbs can reach up and cradle the fruit. The fruit that is designed to give new life when it leaves.
The tree of life starts with creation (the gifts from God) and often highlights a biblical story from Adam and Eve to the Nativity scene. Then added to the tree are items that tell a personal story of a family or individual. If you want more information there is a lnk on the picture of the clay Tree of Life.
But as life often does, it puts us on a different path. Tuesday was one of those days. My husband called me at work. His mother had passed.
So now I find myself writing in a very special place and thinking of a very special woman.
This little town in the Texas Hill Country raised my grandmother and father, a place that introduced my parents. A place that raised my husband and then introduced us. My parents married here. I was married here on the banks of the Frio River.
My great-grandparents and grandparents rest in this land.
Now we are here again to put to rest and to celebrate the life of one of the kindest, humblest, loving woman I have ever met. My mother-in-law. But she was so much more than a legal connection. She was a mother of the heart.
God and family were the center of her life. As a young mother, she left her home country of Mexico and followed her husband to Texas, They made many trips to California to work in the fields. One of the stories I heard over and over from her eleven children was that wherever they lived she made it into a home. She always had fresh tortillas and something warm on the stove, ready to feed whoever came through her door. She worked the gardens, rode horses, washed jeans in a tub and did it all with a smile on her face, not a word of complaint, but she did sing and she listened more than she spoke.
The world is a better place because of her, and I am a better person.
Sitting on our cabin porch I look over the landscape, and I think of the endless flow of the river and the hundred-year-old oak that is growing on the side of this slope. Its roots are growing around a large bolder reaching deep to hold its place. Despite the obstacles it has faced, it is still standing and flourishing.
Even though she is gone from this world Francisca Navarro produced fruit that is still giving and will for several generations.
I think about the Tree of Life project and it takes on a new meaning for me. Out of clay each of us is to pick something that represents creation, something that is God-given. I had made plans but now I know that I need something that represents not only my parents and grandparents but an item that shows the love Francisca Navarro had for her God and her family.
Out of clay, I have started building a hen sitting on a nest. On the box, she sits on are images of cowboys, rivers and stars.
A piece of my life’s journey will be a small part of a forty-foot Tree of Life along with seven hundred other stories. But Francisca Navarro is a huge part of my journey. She raised a boy into a man that is everything good and kind. My husband, Jesus Alfredo “Fred” Navarro is just one of the fruits she gave the world.
There are some threads you will always see in my stories. Love of God and family. I can’t imagine writing a story without family dynamics. Some good, some bad. How do we react? How do we forgive? How do we love? How do we except love and forgiveness?
None of us are perfect and as we walk through this life we need to treat others with kindness. As a teacher, I find that some of the hardest students to love are the ones that probably need it the most.
I hope as I move forward I am showing God’s love in everything I do.
Tell me about a person that influenced your life’s journey. Someone that you have lost, but they made you a better person.