The Picture

Joey stood there staring at the beautiful woman, he knew this was the woman of his dreams. Her skin was dark and her hair was like the golden sun and hung in Indian braids.  She had the cutest red, white and blue pants on, kind of like an American tourist.  Her skin was dark but her hair was golden blonde, really struck him as strange, he could see her cheek bones were high and she looked as if she had Indian heritage in her.  He wondered why she was here, she look as if she belonged yet she didnít.  He had seen a lot of tourist come into town but none had drawn his attention like her. The city was crowded because of the rodeo.

Now the girl didnít know they were going to become real close, as a matter of fact she didnít even know he existed.  Well, he was going to change this as soon as he could.

She was looking in the window and he was curious as to what she was staring at, he walked over and looked.  ĒExcuse me", he said.  She turned, startled that he was so close.  She didnít even hear him walk up.  "What is so interesting in that window"?  She looked at him and said, "well sir, I donít see where it is of any concern of yours".

He smiled,  "didnít mean to offend you but you just looked so intense", then she smiled, "Iím sorry" she said, my goodness he was so handsome, there was such a sweetness about him, he had those cowboy boots on and his hat in his hand.

ďWell" she said, "that picture, the one in the window with the Mother and child, that is the picture my Mother has and she told me that her Mother painted it and she did two just alike , one for her and one for my Mother. I have never  seen my  Grandmother, I knew she lived in Amarillo Texas , but donít know where.  I was just thinking it could be that it belonged to her.

This was so strange talking to a stranger like this but he seemed nice enough.

Joey said , "well there is only one thing to do, lets go ask the man where he got the picture, maybe he can help you".  She looked at Joey and said, "by the way my name is Marie and yours is"?  "Joey" he said, "Joey Mantenya and I am from here so maybe I can help you".

Marie asked him if he was born here and he said yes, Iím a full blooded Indian and tourist come from all around to stare at me and he laughed. ďNo, seriously the reason they stare is Iím really popular and youíll find out why later on",  and he walked inside with her. She looked at him kind of strange wondering who he was.

"Well",  said Marie,  "I hate to be trouble to a person so popular  and I really donít even know you but Iíd appreciate it if you would help me" .  "I am just here for the summer, I came to look at some art pieces for where I work and I just happen to see this. I know I have seen the picture there for a long time like it's waiting on someone. I come here four or five times a year. I live in the upper part of the city and work there except in the summer and then I just run from circuit to circuit".  She didnít really understand what he meant about circuit to circuit but she was soon to find out.

As they went inside, the shopkeeper was Indian Mexican and could not speak very good English so Joey had to interpret most of what he said.

The store manager looked at Joey and smiled and talked to him like he knew him very well, he asked Joey how he was doing in his Indian dialect.

"Fine,  Mr. Mandeza, how are you"? "Hey Joseph, you riding in  rodeo this weekend"?  "Yes Sir, I am" he said "and hoping to win".  They both laughed,  "you have  good chance but be careful, that bull is  the meanest one" .  Marie stood there hearing this, she looked at him, "you ride Bulls"?, she asked.  "Yes", he said "it's what I do in the summer months, Iím a rodeo man".  Marie was impressed, as a matter of fact very impressed.  Not only was he smart and handsome and had a job, but rode bulls.   What more could a girl ask for in a real cowboy..

But back to the business at hand.  Please ask him about the picture she said.

"Mr. Mandeza,  we need to ask you something".  ďYes" he said.  "Where did you get that picture? The one in the window with the Indian woman and the baby girl"?

He told him it had belonged to an old lady, she was an American . As he told the story in broken English, Joey helped Maria to understand.  As he stood there he said, "quite a story behind  picture my boy.  Over 60 years ago, young beautiful lady came, open  shop from  United States, she wanted to open  painting shop, bring art here, she hired  young Indian boy to help in shop.  This handsome young Indian man's name Taiwan Morning Dew,  caused quite  stir back then.  But she strong willed and determined.  A love between them people could no break apart like Indian beads tied with buffalo hair, no break.  Not set well with  people in town but not matter to her.  After they married on  reservation Indian style, she began dress in the tradition Indian outfits and from then on that she wore.

Art  so beautiful, all hand paint ,  people love, so she still do  good,  drew a lot of tourist for us.  Had this one daughter, named her Morning Dew.  They call  her Morning, she sent  package with her, looked like  painting of some kind, story goes , was of her Mother and her so she not forget her, she put  daughter on  wagon and send her to city, stay with family for schooling.  After  daughter left she not do so well,  real sick,  she painted  picture of her and her daughter as she remembered her,  one last picture, one she sent with daughter and  one for herself. This one, well it in an old house on outskirts of town.  No one lived there many years so bought land off land company and got old house with it.

Marie stood and listened as the old man told the story and Joey explained some of the words in English and it was the same one her Mother had told her.

ďSir", she asked, "do you know what happened to the old lady or her husband"?

"Not certain but man left town go back to reservation, so thinking people leave lady alone, after it rumored she also went live on reservation, not accepted among Indianís so she returned to town, was rumored she died of broken heart, think sheís buried there on hill in old cemetery but no headstones so canít tell where, think maybe he died after, not know for sure, maybe be on the reservation still".

Marie thought her heart would stop as she listen to his story, after all these years she may get to see her Grand father.  She looked at the painting and knew she had to have it.  She told the old store keeper her full name Marie Morning Dew, but it had been changed to Morndew when she moved to the city.  

And as she did this he stood back and stared at her. He looked at Joey and said something . Joey said he wants to ask you something.  So he spoke slow so she could understand him.  

You old womanís Granddaughter.  Come child, look, bottom of picture.  As Marie read the name it was signed in the most beautiful penmanship she had ever seen.

Morning Dew was written on it.  She began to cry and told him she had to have the picture no matter the cost, it was her Grand Mothers painting.    He handed it to her and said, "this  picture been waiting for you long time".

About that time she looked around and she had forgotten all about Joey, she was just touching the painting with her fingers and knowing how happy her Mom was going to be.  He stood there with a smile on his face.

"Well", he said, "seems like your trip was well worth while".  He tipped his hat and said "it was nice meeting you" and started to walk away.

She spoke and said, "when will you be riding the bulls"?  He smiled and turned around and said, "tomorrow".  "Can I come and watch"? she asked,  "After all,  we have made a special memory here and you were a great big help".

There was a smile all over his face. "Iíd love it", he said  "and then if you want,  weíll go and see if we can find your Grand Father,  you see part of my family still lives on the reservation and Iíll take you there. I can tell you right now I donít think there is anyone there with the name Taiwan , not very many people left there at all.  Just the ones that donít want to change their tradition.  But Iíll be glad to take you there".

The next day couldnít come fast enough for Marie, she didnít sleep at all. The sun came up early and she rose up and got dressed to go and see Joey ride or rope the bulls,  what ever they did.

To her surprise it was very exciting, all the crowds of people and the cheering and yelling and Joey was  right, he was good and he won the prize.  That was the biggest bull she had ever seen but Joey sat straight and proud and looked right at her.

He was hot and sweaty and still looked great.  He came over, tipped his hat and handed her the ribbon and said "here, this will help you remember this day".

She smiled and thought, like Iíd ever forget this time in my life or this day.  As he reached it to her and their hands touched, she thought for a moment, is this what my Grand Mother felt when her man touched her hand, was it love at first sight, was it something meant to be, was she supposed to come here and meet Joey, Was history repeating it self?

Joey looked at her and his dark brown eyes lit up and he said, "I need to go and freshen up and Iíll take you out to the reservation".  It couldnít be too soon for her, she had two kinds of excitement going through her.

Joey was talking a shower and getting dressed and he was thinking about her hand and her face and he couldnít get it out of his head.  He thought, its only been 24 hours, how could you feel this way about someone in such a short time, but he wasnít going to argue with fate.

He picked up Marie and off they went.  He tried to tell her not to get excited because he was pretty sure her Grand father wasnít there.  But the look in her eyes, he sure hoped the old man was there for her.

They pulled into the reservation site, it was dry and dusty and there were still teepeeís around but mostly there were small buildings that had been built by the government to house the Indians that didnít want to leave.

As they entered the reservation Joey saw a very old man sitting and he thought the best person to ask would be him.  He didnít know who he was and had not seen him out before.  It had been awhile since he had been there.  He thought he knew everyone but this one man he had not seen.  Sometimes the older oneís didnít come out or sit on the outside.  He noticed some of the other men and women on the reservation stood around and talked among themselves as they got out of the truck.  When they started to talk to the old Indian man they sat down around him and listened to every word that was spoken.

Joey talked to him in his own language.  As Joey talked to the old Indian and told him the story.  Marie noticed he looked so strange as Joey spoke.  A tear rolled down his cheek and he stared at her, never took his eyes off of her. Then he spoke with a sadness in his voice. Maria couldnít understand but then Joey turned to her with a sad look and explained to her what he said, that the young man had gone on many years ago.  As the Indian man talked he rose to his feet slowly and left to go inside of his teepee, many others followed after him and no one was allowed inside.  He laid down and fell asleep to go to his fathers.

One of the young men came out, and told them how he had said he had seen it in the clouds four moons back, a child floating on the wind and coming to him, he had been sitting for days in the same spot and said when his child returned  he could have rest and now he was gone.

Marie cried but she could not go to him, it was a resting place and no one was allowed inside.

Joey felt so lost, he wanted to hold her, he moved closer and she laid her head on his shoulder.  She then pulled away and said ďIím sorry, itís just so sad to lose a part of you  that you never met, he was my Grandfather and Iím sad yet I feel now my life is complete also.  I would have loved to have known him better, to hear of the stories of his life. They must have been loving people to give up their child for a better life.   Joey, please take me back to town and weíll talk later, right now I need to be alone and just think for while, this is something I had not expected".

He understood, so he drove her back to town. They said nothing till he pulled up in front of the hotel.  "Hereís my number, call me later" he said "and Iíll take you out for a bite to eat". Marie smile a weak smile and said "okay".  As Joey drove off he looked back and as he did, she looked at him and he knew something was going come out of this, it wasnít just a meeting by chance it was a meeting that was meant to be.
 
© By Harriett Dash 2004      Home