Thursday, April 19, 2007

Are You Your Sister's Brother?

The young man of about seven years stood in the doorway of the Twin Rocks trading post with his hands in his pockets, staring at me and contemplating an obviously significant question.

Steve and Rose Simpson
Steve & Rose Simpson

Spring had arrived, and after a long, cold winter, Barry and I had flung open the Kokopelli doors to let in the vernal warmth. The boy, dressed in a brightly colored pullover shirt and short pants, wandered thoughtfully through the entry and stopped just inside the threshold. After scrutinizing him for a few moments from my perch behind the counter, I asked, “May I help you young man?” Stepping forward a few feet and screwing up his courage, he inquired, with an air of extreme seriousness, “Are you your sister’s brother?”

Carefully considering the gravity of this inquiry, and hoping the ambivalence in my reply would not be overtly apparent, I said, “Yes sir, I believe I am.” To my great relief, his parents chuckled, thereby deflecting the uncertainty I was attempting to mask by my answer. Clearly they did not grasp the complexity of their son’s question.

Now, I have universally maintained that I have two sisters and two brothers; Susan, Craig, Barry and Cindy, in that chronological order. There has, however, always been a lingering doubt as to my origin. Duke has never indicated any uneasiness regarding my genealogy, so I believe my patrimony is clear. Rose, however, is an altogether different matter.

When we were very young, Rose often hinted that I was found under a rock, leaving open the issue of my maternal ancestry. I did not know, and never had the courage to ask, whether that meant she brought me into this world naturally, misplaced me and later rediscovered her latest sapling under that rock, or whether I was abandoned at a young age to shift for myself.

The youngster’s question weighed heavily on my mind as I peddled my bicycle towards Mexican Hat a few days later. Usually I am up before the stars go down to begin my exercise routine, but it was my day off and I had gotten up late. The beautiful weather motivated me to dust off the bike that had been dormant all winter, pull on my cycling gear and strike out in the direction of Monument Valley.

Everyone on the road was in a great mood, waiving and giving me the thumbs up. In one case, on a particularly narrow stretch of road, a guy even called me “Buddy” and anointed me with an unusual one finger greeting. The sun had warmed me to the core, and I was happy to be back in the saddle, happy the travelers were in such a good spirit and happy to be alive.

Back in the old days, when kids were still allowed to ride in the back of pickups, the Simpson family owned a beat-up Dodge truck with only one door handle and a camper shell. The shell was basically corrugated aluminum stretched over metal ribs. In good weather, Rose would ride in the bed of the truck with us, probably to ensure we did not fall out as the vehicle sped down the highway, since there was no door in the back.

As I cycled along, I noticed a large, squarish block of stone located on the westerly side of the road, about seven miles from Mexican Hat, which reminded me of a long ago journey. During that particular trip, Rose was in the back of the pickup with us, and, as we passed that same rock, she pointed and said, “There, that is were I found you.” I remember wondering how she might have discovered me on such a lonely, desolate stretch of road, but satisfied myself she was a sincere, honest women. Accordingly, I figured the story must be true. “What a fortunate child I am,” I remember thinking.

Not long after that, K-Mart came to the Desert Southwest, and Rose’s story changed. She began to explain to those who would listen that I had not actually been found under a rock, as had been previously indicated, she had really gotten me as a Blue Light Special. God, she assured those who asked, would never have been so unkind as to deliver a child like me to such an otherwise well-meaning family. Speaking of that same God, Rose, who had attended Catholic school and considered a career in the convent, would say, “He is after all, a kind, loving and gentle being.” On those occasions, I would remind Rose of the Book of Job, and caution that her trial might have been much more difficult.

Recently I took the time to research my ancestry, and what I found set my soul at ease. Rose had not been completely honest with me all these years. I had not after all been found under a rock, nor was I a Blue Light Special; we had actually gotten her from K-Mart. As it turns out, I am my sister’s brother; but not my mother’s son.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2007 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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