There has been much unwarrented speculation among my friends and family as to the origin of Carmelita.
Carmelita came to live with me some time in the early 1990's. She has graced my walls for nearly ten years thanks to a bet, of sorts, with a friend.
Janet and I debated amongst ourselves about who knew the ugliest cemetery. My contender was the cemetery in O'Donnell, Texas. When I was a kid and family members were being planted there right and left, I remember it as a sandy, weedy, wind-swept place. It was hot. And very, very dry.
One Saturday we packed lunch (and Gerald) and set off for O'Donnell. I have to admit I was disappointed.
Somewhere through the years the home town of Hoss Cartwright had developed enough civic pride to start a cemetery association. The graveyard was clean and apparently had been watered on a fairly regular basis. There was actual green grass.
We explored a bit and found the trash pile in a back corner. I saw something sitting atop a mound of rotting flowers. It was half of a large wooden cross. It was missing its right arm, which I found further down in the pile. The cross was obviously handmade and the inscription consisted of a single word - Carmelita. The bottom of the cross was caked with oily mud from where it had been ripped from the ground and tossed away.
Janet helped me load Carmelita into the car and we brought her home. She has presided over my house ever since. I've never know her to cause any mischief, but I think that's because she likes me. And she knows if the house ever catches fire, she will be the first thing I save on my way out the door.
One of these days I am going back to the O'Donnell Cemetery. Partly to pay respects to three generations of my family buried there and partly to look for Carmelita's grave. Hopefully hers is not one of the 74 un-marked graves.