Tuesday, September 19, 2023

He Built It With His Hands - My Tio Guillermo Padilla

Most of the time I write posts about ancestors who I never had the pleasure of meeting because they lived long ago. Today I am writing about my Tio Guillermo Padilla. AKA Maquela, Maquel, Mac or Max McGee. He had so many nicknames because he was a character. I think Maquel liked flying under the radar, living in Puerto de Luna, however, he wasn't hard to miss. The other day I wrote a poem about him, inspired by a conversation I had with my cousin, Tony Dodge while having lunch with him and his wife Sharon in San Antonio. He described how Maquel built his rock walls. He would place a rock on top of the wall he was building and sit back and light a cigarette and look at it. Then he would ever so slightly move to rock and take another puff off of his cigarette.

Guillermo Padilla
Maquela, Maquel, Mac or Max McGee

Guillermo Padilla was born June 8, 1913 in Puerto de Luna, New Mexico. He died March 10, 1985. He was an eccentric man with many talents. He was a musician, an artist and a rock mason. I didn't like him as a child because I didn't understand him. Now I understand. Now I think he probably would have been described as being neurodivergent because of his social preferences and the fact that he was very talented in certain creative areas. I recognize this because I too am neurodivergent. I am thinking there could be a genetic element.

This is a painting I did of the adobe house in Puerto de Luna
where Guillermo lived most of his life.

Maquel was my mom's older brother. He never married. He lived 12 miles from Santa Rosa in Puerto de Luna most of his life, except when he was in the army. He was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas for basic training, then he went to Egypt and Italy, where he was honorably discharged due to a medical issue. From what I understand, he came back from WWII with what is now known as post traumatic stress disorder. I have a feeling many returned from WWII with PTSD, a very real disorder when one has experienced something as shocking and dangerous as WWII.

The other day after I wrote the poem about Mac, I posted it on Facebook and I was surprised to see the response I got from cousins who had memories of him when they were young. My cousin, Patrick Padilla said that my post brought back fond memories. One summer Patrick's father, Floyd Padilla, forced him to help Tio Maquel build a rock wall around their yard. He said he would never forget driving to Puerto de Luna in his old flatbed truck to get the rock for the job. He said he was amazed at how he knew just where to hit the large sandstones near the river with his pickaxes in order to break off chunks of rock for the wall. He also said he had always wished he could have learned more about masonry from Maquel but it was hard work and he was too young to care. I didn't know until then that Maquel actually quarried his one stones! He quarried sandstone, smooth river granite stones and even petrified wood. He was an amazing mason.Watching him piece together a wall was a beautiful thing. I remembered that we had a pile of petrified wood on the side of our house that my dad was sort of proud of. He would move the pile to mow the grass and carefully please it back in the middle of the side yard. To anyone else, it was just a pile of rocks.

This is my grandson Dylan standing in front of my
parents house in Amarillo, TX in 2010.
This is the only photo I could find of the
rock flower bed Maquel built in front of the porch.

This is one of Maquel's walls at the entrance of Park Lake
in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Guillermo Padilla on the left playing accordion

Guillermo Padilla playing accordion in Puerto de Luna

My dad Felipe Fajardo and Guillermo Padilla

And the beauty of it all was that he wasn't just a rock mason. He was also an artist and a musician. I started painting horses in the early 1990's and it wasn't until my brother Phillip saw one of them and told me it looked like one of Uncle Mac's that I remembered his horsed that drew and mine look just like his.

My daughter Adriane wearing one of my
"Two Ladies on Horses" T-Shirt at an art show in 1993.

"Two Ladies on Horses" T-Shirt painted by Christina Fajardo 1993 

I've been told that the wait staff put a black ribbon around the booth where Mac used to sit and drink coffee at his favorite restaurant in Santa Rosa. I don't know that for a fact because I was living in Austin with 2 children in 1985. It's good to know that your DNA lives on Uncle Mac. My son's nick name was Big Mac for a little while and he wore it proudly and used to make Instagram posts of Mac that were pretty funny.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Bubbles Up! RIP Jimmy Buffett

A week ago today I received the sad news that Jimmy Buffett had passed away peacefully on the night of September 1st surrounded by his family, friends. Reading the tributes to him this week has been heart warming and inspiring. I read a post on Facebook that said "Wouldn't you know that Jimmy would go out in pure Jimmy Buffett style at the beginning of the the long Labor Day weekend?"

I don't remember exactly what day it was this week that I was out on my patio watering my plates, cutting back dead leaves and talking on the phone to Christian. I looked up and there was a bright yellow parrot flying around in front of my patio and landed in the tree and sat there for a while. I came back inside and then thought to myself "That was a yellow parrot! OMG was that Jimmy's spirit making his rounds, telling everyone goodbye?

Synchronicities always call my attention to what I am doing in the moment and gives greater meaning to life. On Sunday, September 3, I was preparing food for Adriane's birthday party. I was reminiscing about that hot day in 1977, at the end of the summer, September 3rd. It was 5 days past my due date. What were the chances that I would go into labor on the Labor Day weekend? So on Sunday, as I was preparing food, listening to Spotify, Jimmy Buffett's song "Come Monday" randomly started playing. I was floored since Jimmy passed away just 2 days prior. I have heard that song a million times since its release in 1974, the year my brother, Phillip became Jimmy's drummer. I mindlessly sang along with the song for over 40 years. On Sunday it had a whole new meaning. Still in shock that Jimmy passed away, I heard the lyrics in a whole new light. The song was written on the Labor Day weekend, 3 years before Adriane was born. There I was cooking and I singing along:

Headin' out to San Francisco
For the Labor Day weekend show
I got my Hush Puppies on
I guess I never was meant for glitter rock 'n' roll
And honey,
I didn't know that I'd be missin' you so
Come Monday, it'll be alright
Come Monday, I'll be holdin' you tight
I love the way the Universe gives us gentle little nudges as reminders that we do in fact carry on and remain. I love my life.

Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy built an amazingly successful career with his stellar upbeat, colorful live performances with a devoted fan base of "Parrotheads" equal to the "Grateful Dead's" fan base of "Dead Heads." The nickname originated at a 1985 concert. What does it mean to be a "Parrothead?" It means you are probably a baby boomer, a fan of Jimmy Buffett's music and the laid-back, beachy lifestyle he promoted.He became a billionaire because he recognized something big was happening amongst his fans before, during and after his shows and capitalized on it. Women with coconut bras and men with parrot hats and Hawaiian shirts. He capitalized on it by building a lifestyle brand around the attitude his artistry encompassed. It was genius!

In 1975, Jimmy formed the first Coral Reefer Band. My brother, Phillip was the drummer in that band. This is a video of the first Coral Reefer Band that year.

Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band

My favorite part of this video is at the beginning when Jimmy gets off of the bus and tries to kiss my brother, Phillip. RIP Jimmy.

Jimmy Buffett in Austin 1975

The band was the opening act for the Eagles in August of 1975. The album "Havana Daydreamin'" was released in January 1976. My brother played drums on that album.

In January 1977, "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" was released. It featured his breakthrough hit song "Margaritaville" Jimmy said he wrote most of the song in six minutes.

Jimmy opened his first successful "Margaritaville" retail store in Key West, Florida in 1985. There are now restaurants, vacation clubs, hotels, casinos, restaurant chain, casinos, liquor, a musical and retirement communities with the "Margaritaville" brand. I'm pretty sure I would love living at a "Latitude Margaritaville" retirement community.

Jimmy was one of the world's richest musicians, with a net worth of about $1 billion. He was also a bestselling author. Over and above his ability to spread the love and show his gratitude, he cared about the environment. He donated funds and time to "Singing for Change," "The Manatee Club," "Last Mango Boatworks" and more. Jimmy Buffett was a true artist, inspiring millions to sing, dance, and take it easy.