As soon as one passes over the Cascade mountains in Washington heading East, the land becomes very barren and rural. Wenatchee is a small town in Eastern Washington known as ‘The Apple Capital of the World’, and my mom grew up on a large orchard in the heart of the town. She was the youngest of three children, following 12 years from her older sister, so she practically grew up an only child and thought of herself as the most spoiled. Her parents were Betty Anne Recchia and Germano Recchia; her mom was Norwegian; her father was 100% Italian. Her father, a veteran of World War II, worked in Alcoa, an Aluminum factory as my mom was growing up, while also tending to their orchard and horses. My mom loved riding her horses and on sunny days in the summers, her fondest memories were of her and her dad riding through the orchard and afterwards sitting in lawn chairs, drinking iced tea that her mom would make, and listening to Jorge Negrete’s record. Her favorite song was ‘El Rancho Grande’. Her father was hardworking and often times very stern with her, so they butted heads a lot as she grew up. They were close, but he was also a stoic and had issues showing his emotions. She claimed that how they found common ground while she was growing older was by listening to ‘El Rancho Grande’ together.
My mom went to college at the University of Washington in Seattle and left the small town of Wenatchee behind. She visited her parents when she could, but their relationship grew very distant once she had kids and settled down in the city. Germano passed away in 2004 from a heart attack. My mom thinks it was because of how much Kentucky Fried Chicken he would eat. This past year, her mom passed away from Alzheimer’s. Having the death of another parent, my mom decided to look through their memorabilia box in our kitchen. She pulled out old photo albums filled with black and white polaroid pictures of her parents on road trips all over the country, her dad’s metals from the war, and all of her mom’s old china. As she was reminiscing, she heard a noise coming from the living room. She was startled and started walking into the other room to find that Alexa, a speaker and personal assistant device created by Amazon, had started playing ‘El Rancho Grande’ quietly. My mom was taken back to sitting with her dad in the orchard, and drinking her mom’s iced tea. She was convinced that it was her parents telling her they were still with her.
My mom is still very sensitive talking about her parents, her mom especially as she died this past summer. When she originally told me this story, she was beyond excited and would not stop talking about how her mom and dad were still with her. She had never believed in ghosts before, but she is incredibly religious. She always would remind my sisters and I after our grandma died that she would always be looking over us. Having this experience, my mom seemed even more convinced that the dead are always watching down over the living.