Sunday, October 30, 2016

Happy 79th Birthday to Rudolfo Anaya!

Painting By Christina Fajardo
My Grandma Rosita Valdez Padilla's House
Puerto de Luna, NM

In 1972 I went to live with my grandma Rosita Valdez Padilla in Puerto de Luna, New Mexico. I attended my junior year of high school 12 miles down a winding 2 lane road that followed the Pecos River in Santa Rosa. That year was life changing for me. It was also the year that Rudolfo Anaya's novel, "Bless Me, Ultima" was published. It told a somewhat similar story of Antonio Mares and his relationship with Ultima.

Rudolfo Anaya

In Rudolfo's novel, six year old Antonio Mares y Luna, tells the story of the older curandera, Ultima who has come to live with them. The story is very near and dear to my heart. It took place in Puerto de Luna. My parents were born, raised and married in Puerto de Luna. It took place just after WWII. My father was in the army during WWII and my mother worked for her uncle at the post office in Puerto de Luna during the war. She would sometimes have to take telegrams to the families of fallen soldiers on her horse. She was only 19 at the time. That seems like a lot to expect of a teenager who was related to everyone in Puerto de Luna. However Professor Emeritus and New Mexican author, Rudolfo Anaya wasn't just telling my story, my family history, he is a hometown hero of Santa Rosa and Puerto de Luna. He has the most widely read and critically acclaimed novel in the Chicano literary canon since its first publication in 1972, the year I was living with my grandma in Puerto de Luna. Of course, by that time, I was just walking in his footsteps and he had moved on to Albuquerque where he would become the Godfather of Chicano Literature, the treasured son of New Mexico. 

This year Rudolfo became one of the newest recipients of the National Humanities Medal. I can't tell you how exciting it was to watch him on TV receiving the awarded from President Obama. While leaving the stage, he held up his hand and said "Viva Obama!" 

U.S. President Barack Obama awards the 2015 National Humanities Medal to author Rudolfo Anaya

What it must have felt like to be acknowledged by the coolest President we have ever had for playing a key role in weaving our New Mexican culture into American society through his body of work. I only dream of breaking the barriers he has broken by telling his story of the civil rights struggles of Hispanic people of New Mexico. He has given me the courage to tell my story as a female Hispanic woman. By telling his story of Ultima, he helped me to solidify the importance of a boy and his relationship to his wise and aging grandmother who held the secrets of life that only she could convey to him as a young boy before he grew too old to have the time or interest. I've personally cherish those times with my own children and grandchildren and I feel blessed when they come back and repeat information that I have bestowed upon them. 

Rudolfo has been a huge inspiration to me. Telling his stories has given me permission to tell my story. I write my blog to keep my very unusually rich New Mexican family story alive. My son said to me just the other day "Mom, you don't even know how many times a week I brag about the work you do, researching our family history and writing our story." It warms my heart to know that he understands how important it is. If I die without telling the stories, our history dies with me. My brother Phillip reminds me all the time that I am the keeper of the stories and the family history. My mother before me was the keeper. I only wish I had started writing while she was still alive.

The movie can be bought on Amazon Prime. 
I have streamed and watched it many times.

Rudolfo explains in this video how he receives guidance from his ancestors.

A Conversation with Rudolfo Anaya by Directed by Lawrence Bridges

It is an amazing thing to have those connections to the past. Sometimes late at night when I am working on my family tree, if there is a missing link to connect one family member to another, it is as if my guides come and the information just appears out of nowhere. So that answers the question of "do we live forever?" I would have to say yes. We are energy and energy never dies. I feeling the presence and blessings of my ancestors when I am working on our story.

Without getting way into my family tree, I am related to Rudolfo Anaya and Ultima, AKA Anastacia Lucero Boney.) A dear friend of mine, Jasmine is Ultima's great great granddaughter and now has a store in Santa Rosa, NM called Casa de Ultima. She does farmers markets around New Mexico and she always takes the Ultima doll I made for her with her to the markets and displays her among her herbal remedies and soaps.

Ultima Doll
Made by Christina Fajardo

Christina at the Rudolfo Anaya Statue
Park Lake, Santa Rosa,NM

Happy 79th birthday to you Rudolfo Anaya! You have been a huge inspiration to me. Your spirit will live on forever in your stories.

COLORES | From Curandera To Chupacabra: The Stories Of Rudolfo Anaya | New Mexico PBS

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