Christine Nelson Gallardo – QEPD

My very first memory of you is of the day, night, time period when my grandfather died. So, to have you pass away seems so bitter right now. 

I first met you when we finally got to the island, the night my grandfather died,  in what I recall was the cover of darkness. You stood there next to your friend Mary and both your and Mary's children all around you. It was late, and dark and the news was sad. 
I don't even know if you knew my mother all that well at that time. Somehow you and Mary gathered my whole family and got us to bed and somehow managed to help us make decisions on that night that very few of us were ready or even able to make.
I recall the next morning, going out to the beach. My brother, cousin and I, so stunned that we must have seemed like automatons, sitting on the beach.  I recall watching your son Jason, with Mary's son Daniel, both swimming in the water. They just seemed to fit in with the surroundings, I remember thinking that they must be what water babies looked like. I remember them pulling us into the water and swimming with them and learning about the mangroves (I think) where the eels liked to hang out. I think Corina must have been really little, as I recall you holding a child's hand while drawing pictures in the sand. I think I just now realized that you were watching us while things were handled by the adults in trying to get us back to the mainland. Thank you.
Your son Jason, and Mary's son Daniel, made me laugh. I will love them both forever for that. We were driving in an old Toyota, all the kids thrown in the back as we headed to what I think was the military base to negotiate transport. I don't think that I have ever told you or Jason that this made such a huge impression on me. They made a joke and laughter just came out and it stunned me, all of us I think. The air filled with wondering if it was OK to do that. My heart thrilled that I could actually enjoy something. Little did I know then, that the rest of my interactions with you would all be about enjoying things… even through the most harsh of your comments. 
I once asked my mom what she liked about you, after being on the receiving end of a particularly caustic remark. She told me that she appreciated that you spoke the truth. You did, in your own way, you did. Having that conversation with my mother about you helped me to see what incredible things you do bring to my life. I am grateful for you and am so much richer for having had time to interact with you.
I sent you a note about the velvet palm tree. I hope you understood just how much that symbolizes so many things for me Here is that note again:
My very dear Christi –

I was thinking about you this past weekend, for several things popped
into my mind that provoked memories of you…

The first thing was that I have started a collection of ceramic
shards… I have some pretty wonderful colors and shapes and I am
excited to see the pieces get to be numerous enough to actually put
them on a wall. I was putting the newest broken bowl, a pretty
turquoise, into my shards box and was looking at the handles and
shapes in there and was wondering what kind of mosaic they would
eventually become. There is something exciting about those moments,
that of looking at your supplies and seeing them for the potential.

The second thing that happened is that I had the occasion to draw a
palm tree. Palm trees always remind me of you… and here is why. One
of the first things that you made that my mother had (that I was aware
of any way) was a velvet palm tree you had made. I loved that palm
tree when I was little and would sneak it in to my time of playing
with my dolls. It was always a magical tree, full of good wishes and
fun other worldly things. So, I drew a terrible picture of a palm tree
and the image of the one you made that I played with popped into my
mind and it made me smile. I hold all palm trees to that standard.
Even living ones, I look to see if they have the elements that you
captured in that sewn one… if the colors work, the shape… it is
actually a wonderful exercise for me to do. I suppose I should thank
you for that tree that came into my life 30 plus years ago, I can't
tell you how many hours of delight I got from it.

Best wishes from Squink, Chris and I…
I can't tell you how many things happen and you cross my mind. You made a tremendous impression on me. I miss you and am so grateful to have such wonderful and powerful memories of you.
Most fondly,

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