Sixty-Four by Juliana Aragon Fatula

Sixty-four years ago, my mother was snowed-in, nine months pregnant with me, and was surrounded by family. My cousins shoveled the driveway for my mom twice and drove her to the hospital or I would have been born at home like my ancestors. 

My father worked in Colorado Springs for the Federal Government at Fort Carson as a civilian employee. He carpooled with several men and women from our home town. In 1957 on April 2, my journey began and what a long, strange trip it’s been. My father convinced the State Patrol who were turning traffic around to let his vehicle pass the roadblock on Highway 115. He told the trooper his wife was having their first baby. He had three children from his ex-wife, and my mom had three children from her ex-husband. I was my parents first child together. I’ve always been loved.

Today I’m a mother and wife. My son is 48. My husband is 59 and we’ve been married almost thirty years. Yes, it’s been a long strange trip. I had my son when I was fifteen. I married my husband when I was 34 and he was 31. I’m content to stay home and write and read and study and garden and bake and create herbal remedies. 

In the seventies, I wore the label of hippy. Today in twenty-twenty-one, I’m a hippy again being myself and loving life. Just happy to be alive. But I have struggled all of my life with severe depression, so I’m mentally ill, not insane, well a little insane, not dangerous to others or myself, but I get the blues real bad and the only thing that helps me, beside anti-depressants: music therapy. Oh, and puppy therapy, of course. My puppies and kittens keep me feeling loved unconditionally. Even though my parents have been gone for many years, I still feel their presence in my life. My dad lived to be 76. My mom 86. 

This year is the last year I can say I’m in my early sixties. Next year I’ll qualify for Medicare and Social Security and will be officially a vieja. A viejita. Although I don’t have any grandchildren, I do have nieces and nephews with children, so I’m technically  what is known as a tia abuela, or tia abuelita. Juliana la tia abuelita. I like that label, it fits me. 

I wear my hair in waist length braids wrapped in otter furs and leather. Often I wear a beaded headband and silver, copper and turquoise jewelry, I wear moccasins because I like them, always have. I make my own shampoo, conditioner, hair rinse, salve for my arthritis, and medical edibles. I admit it, I love the ganja. I’ve been documenting my journey as an herbalist and a cannabis farmer and it’s legal now. 

My father would call me a marijuana. Feminine noun for a woman who likes to smoke, vape, eat cannabis. He wouldn’t understand that I grow it for my aches and pains and depression and fatigue. He grew fruit trees and vegetables. Mom grew flowers, houseplants. Their yard was the garden of Eden. Seriously. Today, my backyard is the sanctuary that keeps me sane and peaceful. I mind my own business, garden, sing, dance, cook, and celebrate my ancestors by telling their stories. 

Si se puede. We can do it. We can beat this virus and political nightmare and begin to let the diversity and magic of cultures blend into harmony and healing. I pray for love instead of hate. Wisdom instead of ignorance. Peace instead of war. One world One Love. 

This is the year twenty-twenty-one and it’s speeding by like a rocket on its way to Mars. I watch the days zip  past and I wonder where all the time has gone. I was once young and vibrant and sexy and silly and scary. I’m still those things only now I can add wise to that list. I’ve learned a few things about life. I’m a survivor and I have a new goal. My goal is to finish The Colorado Sisters and the Atlanta Butcher and then I can feel I’ve accomplished something spectacular. I write poetry. I’m a confessional poet. But my mystery/love story is something different. It tells a story about women fighting for equality in a world dominated by some men who sometimes don’t see women as their equals. But as RGB said, “All I ask is that you take your foot from my neck.”

Wish me luck with my first mystery. I’m determined to write a great story, not a good story, but a great one. Otherwise, why bother, que no?

4 replies
  1. Saralyn
    Saralyn says:

    Happy birthday, Juliana. I'm thinking of the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-four," and singing that to you. Best wishes for every success with your writing.

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