Hospitality Repaid

The small New Mexican ranch has been her home
since her birth. There she met and married her man.
There she raised their kids, setting them free to roam
over the land she loved. That’s past, and nobody can

hold back the march of Time. Today she is packing
to leave this place. At age 76 she no longer can pay
the taxes and upkeep, for she’s financially lacking.
She’s struggled for years…now there’s just no way.

Her daughter and son-in-law have come to assist.
In a corner of the attic they find an old, battered chest.
Inside are bed linens…but down deep in their midst
is a hard object, long ago placed there, they guessed,

to keep it safe and protected. “Mama, what’s this?”
her daughter asks. “That chest belonged to my mama.
Unwrap it and see what it is. I’d forgotten it exists,”
comes the answer; mystery builds the moment’s drama.

The daughter carefully removes the linens to reveal
a large photograph with an overhead view of the ranch.
“Back in the 1930’s, my folks gave a bed and a meal
to some fellows out surveying this area for some branch

“of the government. Well, they thought nothing more
about it, with it just being the hospitable thing to do
and all. In a couple of months, a man came to the door
with this and said ‘I have a special delivery for you two’.

“Mama and Papa always thought that was right nice
of that young fellow. Some years later she packed it away
in this old chest.” The son-in-law says, “Mind some advice?
You should get this framed and then put it out on display.

“What’s the writing on it say?” He begins to read aloud,
“Please accept this aerial photograph I took of your place.”
His voice begins to shake and becomes uncontrollably loud.
“I wanted to repay your hospitality somehow.” His face

breaks into a wide grin. “Mom, get ready for better days.
You have here a one-of-a-kind photograph made and signed
by none other than Ansel Adams. Hospitality truly pays!
You can stay because your family has always been so kind.”

Harry Edward Gilleland      10.12.04