It was 1979, early spring, and San Antonio, Texas was already dry, hot and dusty. I was 18-years-old, sweaty and on my own for the first time in my short life and the furthest I’d ever been from home after having joined the US Air Force.
Somehow I’d managed to wrangle a weekend pass and was spending as much time acting like an alcoholic on a binge, a nattily dressed civilian and a confused tourist in the River Walk District of town. Drinking and sight seeing lead me to the Alamo,where I spent more than a few hours regarding it’s hallowed ground with reverence.
It was here that I encounter a strange life-event, one that I still find hard pressed to tell properly, let alone fully explain. I was looking at the hand-carved stone archway over the front entrance, when a much, much older, short, heavy-set Mexican woman walked up and stepped in front of me.
Facing me, and before I could say anything, she took my right hand in her left and pressed a wood-bead rosary and crucifix hard into the fleshiness of my palm and said in her heavy accent, “All the hard days are coming.”
“What? I don’t understand,” I said, trying to pull my hand away.
“You will,” she returned, “Not right now, not for a very long time, but you will understand and you will know when.”
She quickly turned and walked away beyond the far corner of the old mission building that was the Alamo, leaving me holding that rosary and wondering what she’d meant. And for years, I’ve wondered and am still wondering at her words.
“All the hard days are coming,” she’d said.