..plus c’est la même chose.
Twenty-seven years ago today, March 2nd, 1992, was the reason for my very first visit to the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas. I had never heard of the Valley, and had certainly never heard of Harlingen, Texas, somewhat surprised that the Delta Air Lines ticket agent had when I called to book my flight.
My parents were Winter Texans, traveling in their motor home and Workamping at Frontier Baptist Mission in La Feria, Texas, outside of Harlingen. Exactly what happened will remain a mystery, however my father was cutting grass on a lawn tractor when he got too close to the edge of an embankment. He and the mower tumbled down into the ditch. He must have been pinned under the mower, where he drowned.
The grounds for Frontier Baptist Mission are to the left. The ditch is considerable, much bigger than my truck.
My folks were between residences and towns back home in Canada. They had sold one house, loaded all their boxes and belongings into the new house, fueled up the motor home then headed south.
There was no sense in having my father buried in their previous town. My mother knew no one in their new town where the house was a warehouse of unpacked boxes, so the decision was made to bury him down here.
The grave has not received proper tending since the illness and passing of our good friends, the Reverend Earl and Miss Oneita Kilpatrick. Somewhat ironically here in the heat of South Texas, when I visited a few days ago I had to use a windshield ice scraper and snow brush, leftovers from Canadian winters, to dig out the grave marker. I’ll work on getting that fixed.
I have always been happy with the decision to bury him down here, especially now.
Through tragedy, I made some wonderful friends. But more so, it was the beginning of me turning my life around. I had been rudderless, having hit rock bottom and starting to dig. Within a few months I started my life over again, moving in with my mother in her new town, with a 10:00 curfew and a minimum wage job. Life was grande… just like the Valley.
Parents always make sacrifices for their children. Leaving family, friends and the world they knew in Scotland and come to Canada for a better future for their infant son must have been traumatic for my folks, especially that first snowy, seven-month long winter in the small, isolated gold-mining town that they moved to. Indeed, it made a better life for me.
And I hope my father is looking down on me with a certain amount of pride, knowing that his ultimate sacrifice was not in vain.
Twenty-seven years later, I am back in the Valley in an RV, myself a Winter Texan and occasional Workamper.
For those who don’t ‘parlez-vous le ding dong’, the title of this blog is a French expression meaning, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”