The Day I Came Home

Our annual Concert at the Lensic is an opportunity for us to invite the wider Santa Fe community into the many stories and songs that we have been creating over the past year and into the heart of the Lifesongs process. Lifesongs is founded on a belief in the transformative power of meaningful relationship and on the healing that comes with intergenerational connection and friendship.

Thanks to our partnership with Ambercare Hospice, Lifesongs facilitating artist, Grisha Krivchenia, collaborated with elder, Tony Molinar, and his wife, Mary Lou, last year. Their enduring friendship is a testimony to the power of the deep connection they made with one another.

Grisha shared this with us recently.

Three months ago, I listened to Mary Lou’s voice tremble on the phone as she told me that her husband Tony had passed in the early morning on January 2nd. When she woke up that morning, she noticed that his breathing was very slow.  He gave his last breath a few minutes later as she held his hand.

Mary Lou had an anemic little Christmas cactus that she got for free at a garden store. She felt sorry for it, and so she decided to bring the plant home, to give it a chance. She often told Tony that it would probably never bloom. Tony would always reply, “Algún día va a florear!” The day Tony passed away, a few little blossoms erupted on the cactus.

Five days later, friends and family gathered at Tony and Mary Lou’s house for food, music, and words of remembrance. In conversations short and long, we shared stories about his youth and old age, his kindness and his sense of humor, his ancestors and his grandchildren. Tony would have loved the pozole and the sound of our laughter.

Antonio “Tony” Molinar (1944-2017) was one of my collaborators in the Lifesongs project. Together we wrote “The Day I Came Home,” a country-rock song about the way his community received him when he got back from a year of combat in Vietnam.

After going around the room, greeting known family and getting to know the others, I sat down on the couch. Mary Lou put her hand in mine, and Tony’s son announced that the time had come for traditional songs from Tortugas Pueblo. Tony’s brother, Reymundo led a group of three men in singing and drumming. When the voices began, I was transported to another realm. It is difficult to describe what I felt—something very ancient, something very peaceful, a trance.

After three or four chants and perhaps about 45 minutes, my eyes opened. Mary Lou’s hand still rested in mine.

For more about Tony, Lifesongs, and the song we wrote together, please watch this TEDx talk: