It seems only appropriate that in March, Women’s History Month, Taos will always be the Candle of the Month to honor not only my mom, my tias, and my beloved grandmother Rose. My mother was a 12th-generation New Mexican from Taos, my family settled in the area in the early 1600s. Every summer we drove to Taos to stay with Tia Pearl and visit our Tia Margaret, and then to Pilar to Tia Reggie’s, whose house was along the Rio Grande.
One of my favorite memories was when I was 10 and my Tia Pearl somehow convinced my parents to let me stay with her for the entire summer. I remember skipping in the plaza, listening to the Carpenters on the radio, picking apples from Tia Margaret’s trees, and chokecherries to make jam - it was a glorious Taos summer.
My beloved grandmother Rose grew up in Taos. As a young woman, she attended college in Alamosa until she met and fell in love with my grandfather, Donaciano Francisco Vigil from Pilar. Once she married that meant no more college for her. She raised her children and was always filled with love and joy for all of her grandchildren. When my grandfather died, she was in her mid-60s and I remember asking her who she was going to live with because my mom and all my tias were discussing it.
She laughed, and then she said, “Mijita, my kids think I’m going to move in with them until I die, but I’m not because I’m going back to college to get my degree! And that she did. Not only did she graduate, but she published a book about Taos before she died. She was my greatest inspiration as a young woman.
She would come and visit me when I was attending college at the University of NM and my roommates loved her because she was just like us, college students sitting on the floor, talking about our classes and complaining about our professors, except she was almost 70 years old and had the best laugh.
My favorite memory of her was one visit when I walked her to the door and she said to me, ``Mijita, you are so lucky to be a young woman today,” and I said, “Why grandma? Because I can be whoever I want to be?” She took my hands in hers and said, “NO! Because you are ALLOWED to dream of being whoever you want to be.” She hugged me tightly and then she was gone. I have never, ever forgotten her words.
Is it really just two generations ago that women were not allowed to dream of a career, of going to college, of writing a book? I believe that it is our duty as women to make the world a better place for all women who come after us because we stand on the shoulders of our grandmothers, mothers, tias, primas, and all the women who came before us. Dreams are incredibly important, dreams help us create goals so that we can move toward them.
This month we celebrate all women, but especially the women who came before us who sacrificed so much so that we can succeed today.